Debate on energy and climate change
On the 4th of June 2014, the plenary session welcomed Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner on energy, and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on the occasion of a discussion on energy and climate change.
Speeches by members of the Workers' group
Pierre Jean Coulon
Pierre Jean Coulon strongly criticised the member states that have not yet established their national plan for energy efficiency and the lack of solidarity regarding energy, which compels them to negotiate with large Russian providers or the Russian government on an individual basis.
He also expressed his disappointment for the fact the certain member states and Commissioners oppose Poland's proposition for an energy union, and energy solidarity between member states – a demand already formulated three years ago by the EESC – in the name of free competition in the energy market.
Pierre Jean Coulon underlined the poor inclusion of European trade unions and of civil society in general in the discussion on energy and climate matters in the international arena. He launched an appeal Europe remedies this situation and asked for more solidarity for the establishment of a European energy community.
André Mordant stressed that a climate deregulation would risk insurmountable costs, which would have negative consequences on competitiveness. Furthermore, it would provoke a massive migration of populations affected by this new reality, as well as regular difficulties in supplying potable water and energy.
For this reason, it is imperative that the IPCC continues to communicate its conclusions on a large scale in order to increase public awareness.
André Mordant concluded by asking Commissioner Oettingen whether the Union has the intention to collaborate with Cyprus regarding the transfer of gas - that was recently found in that country - towards Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.
Edgardo Iozia asked Commissioner Oettinger why the internal market of energy is not yet put into place – despite the provision of article 194 of the Lisbon Treaty – and why there is no common policy on energy yet.
European enterprises would like an answer to these questions and also need a clear image concerning the cost of energy in Europe.
The EU should answer these questions to avoid a massive relocation of European enterprises.
Presentation of the citizens' initiative ‘New Deal 4 Europe’
The plenary session of the 5th of June 2014 dedicated a part of its works to a discussion on the European citizens' initiative ‘New Deal 4 Europe', with the presence of Philippe Grosjean, vice-chair of the ECI's promotion committee, and representatives of the ECI, Paolo Pozano and Bernard Barthalay.
Speeches by members of the Workers' Group
An Le Nouail Marlière
An Le Nouail Marlière underlined the great interest of a citizens' initiative for an extraordinary plan for sustainable development and employment. The Workers' Group of the EESC and the European trade unions as a whole represented in the ETUC support the idea of an investment plan for industrial development which would mobilise 2% of the European GDP in the course of 10 years, at a rate of €240 billion per year, and which could eventually lead to the creation of 11 million jobs.
The European trade unions also support a European industrial policy, as advocated in the initiative, which would meet our needs as a whole in terms of production, energy and transport and which would be based on low resource consumption in order to allow the transition towards sustainable growth.
Furthermore, the Committee is favourable to the idea expressed in the initiative, according to which, governance as defined under the framework of the European Monetary Union would be insufficient to mobilise the European citizens, as the results of the recent European elections clearly indicate.
An Le Nouail Marlière concluded by pointing out a slight weakness of the initiative: the fact that it does not sufficiently address the need to involve citizens in the European project nor the challenges of the latter. Nevertheless, she pleaded for support for an initiative which gives a political message to the European Commission regarding new democratic challenges.
The plenary session of June 5th was also enriched by the presence of Henryk Wujec, advisor to the president of Poland, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the first free elections in Poland.
Speeches by members of the Workers' Group
Georges Dassis, president of the Workers' Group, paid homage to the struggle that the Polish workers and citizens went through to live in a democratic country. With those first free elections, Poland entered a new era which gave citizens hope of finally being able to enjoy freedom of expression.
George Dassis reminded the participants that oppressive regimes existed also in the south of Europe, although struggles against them received less publicity. In Greece, for example, it was only in 1974, after the fall of the dictatorship of the colonels, that the first free elections took place. It was also in the 1970's that democratic regimes were established in Portugal and Spain. Thankfully, these countries along with many others are now part of a Europe where peace, freedom, respect for human rights and solidarity are considered as fundamental values.
In the city-state of Athens, where democracy was invented, citizens not interested in politics were considered of no use. Mr. Dassis expressed his disappointment that nowadays, many citizens do not take interest in politics and the future of Europe. This is due to the fact that many of them do not live in dignity. This possibility must be offered to them, because it is the only way to ensure that they will engage in politics and use their right to vote in order to block the way to those who seek a return to anti-democratic regimes.
Marian Krzawlewski thanked Mr Wujec for explaining how the idea of solidarity was transformed into a victory for freedom in Poland and everywhere. Since 1989, several other central and east-European countries went through the same process, which contributed to the fall of the Berlin wall on 9th November 1989. Marian Krzaklewski pointed out that the first cracks to the wall were made back in 1980, when Solidarność, the first free trade union in the communist countries, was established. It constituted a huge shock to the system, and the free elections would not have been possible without it. The elections were a great victory, not for political parties, but for people thirsty for freedom. The main consequence is that Poland became a member of the European Union. Today, the EU is looking for ways to strengthen itself. According to Marian Krzaklewski, we should choose for solidarity – in common defence, in energy, in the way that the Union functions in general. He pleaded for the inclusion of the 'solidarity rule' in the Treaties.
János Weltner expressed his respect for the Polish people and his pride for the fact that the free elections in Poland were the result of a consequent effort of a trade union, Solidarność. He reminded his colleagues that the commitment of the Poles to democracy had been demonstrated already back in 1791, when the Polish-Lithuanian Union adopted the first modern written constitution in Europe. The Third Republic of Poland was created after the election of 1989. It was a trade union movement that generated the political situation in which a dictatorship was compelled to return the power to the people.
János Weltner proceeded to point out the similarities in Poland and Hungary's struggle for freedom. He concluded by stating that this experience should constitute a lesson for dictators and people alike: dictators should know that power that is robbed from the people can only be temporary and will be returned to them sooner or later; people, on the other hand, should take care of the power obtained and the only way to do that is by protecting democratic institutions.