15 March 2024

MET social partners unveil their priorities for the 2024 EU elections to ensure a robust industrial strategy for quality jobs in Europe

On 15 March 2024, Ceemet and industriAll Europe held their annual social dialogue competitiveness and employment working group. In addition to discussing topical issues such as the new artificial intelligence rules and the challenges faced by the industries in the midst of the twin transition, the MET social partners uncovered their joint priorities for the 2024 EU elections.

Europe’s MET industries are responsible for more than 17 million direct and 35 million indirect jobs in the EU. They are the backbone of Europe’s economy. In recent years, the MET sectors, their companies and their workers have faced unprecedented waves of crisis, from the lingering effects of the pandemic, to supply chain disruptions that have exposed our heavy dependence on others, to war in Europe and an energy crisis that has crippled households and industry.

Against this background and in view of the 2024 European elections, industriAll Europe and Ceemet have set out their priorities for the European MET sector, calling for holistic responses from the European level in order to tackle the different challenges faced by the industries:

A robust industrial strategy for quality industrial jobs in Europe

The social partners agree that a comprehensive industrial strategy in Europe is essential to create quality industrial jobs and ensure the competitiveness of MET companies in the face of global counterparts such as the US and China. This strategy should focus on promoting a level playing field, increasing investment, promoting green and digital transformations and ensuring effective anticipation and management of these transitions through just transition frameworks.

A stable and coherent regulatory environment for the sector

Creating a stable regulatory environment is crucial for the MET sector to cope with a highly complex, competitive, fast-changing globalised economy and technological changes. Quality regulation is a must, and to this end, the EU should propose streamlined regulations, remove barriers including for cross border and labour mobility, carry out impact assessments and competitiveness checks and ensure better legislation that meets the needs of workers, companies, and trade unions, thus promoting a well-functioning internal market.

A re-skilling and up-skilling agenda 

A renewed industrial strategy must prioritise re-skilling and up-skilling initiatives to adapt to technological change and to support green and digital transitions. Policies should focus on continuous vocational education and training (VET), involve social partners, support SMEs, share best practices, invest in STEM education and anticipate future skills needs to ensure a skilled workforce in the MET sector.

Social Dialogue and social partner involvement

Social dialogue is key to addressing labour market challenges and adapting to transitions. Sectoral social partners at national level play a key role in shaping working conditions, wage setting, and policy formulation. Policymakers should respect their autonomy and involve them in employment-related policies to ensure comprehensive solutions.

At the EU level, policymakers should consistently consult social partners within appropriate timeframes on employment and labor market initiatives, given their privileged role under the TFEU.

A level global playing field

Maintaining fair trading conditions, promoting sustainability, ensuring a level playing field for EU companies and protecting workers’ jobs are crucial in global competition. The EU must tackle unfair competition, diversify raw material supply, uphold trade principles, and strive to align trade policies with inclusive and sustainable economic development to safeguard the competitiveness of European manufacturing.

Isabelle Barthès, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe:

“The joint efforts of trade unions and employers underline the urgent need to address the challenges facing the European MET industry. A robust and supportive policy framework and social dialogue at all levels are more important than ever to secure quality jobs in the European MET sector and to avoid existential crises for some industries.” 

Delphine Rudelli, Ceemet Director General:

“The European MET industries are the backbone of the European economy. Our companies continue to be responsible for the creation of 17 million direct jobs and 35 million indirect jobs despite the unprecedented waves of crisis that our sector has faced during the last years.
“This is the time to bolster up-skilling and reskilling initiatives in the industries while ensuring the active involvement of social partners in the development of labour-market and skills related policies. Moreover, a precipitable and simplified regulatory business environment should be put in place for MET companies to remain competitive and continue creating quality jobs to reinforce Europe´s industrial basis.”