Cohesion policy has a unique role in reducing inequalities. As one of the European Union’s main investment policies, it has a tremendous potential to create new market pulls, send the right signals to investors and promote inclusive growth. On the other hand, climate change is one of the major challenges of the 21st Century and the EU needs to demonstrate it can lead by doing in the global climate agenda, especially when former strategic partners like the US have relinquished their leadership role.
Therefore, the EU needs to make sure its cohesion policy is directed to preparing regions and cities in Europe for a just transition to a low-carbon economy. Cohesion policy needs to provide a way out for those workers currently employed in high-carbon activities such as coal mining or energy-intensive industries. Cohesion policy has the potential and the instruments to finance early retirement for senior workers and retraining for the junior ones. It also has a robust financial backing to invest in low-carbon infrastructure such as charging stations for EVs and electrified highways. Also, this infrastructure needs to be resilient to the effects of climate change, ensuring jobs and prosperity for workers even in adverse conditions. For example, workers at ports deserve a safe working environment in the event of sea level rise and farmers deserve fair and affordable insurances against losing their livelihood to extreme climate-related events.
Cohesion policy is therefore an essential instrument to build a new Europe, one that protects its workers and prepares them for a low-carbon future. European Socialists have worker rights and reducing inequality at their core and therefore European Socialists are best positioned to turn the EU’s Cohesion Policy into the best instrument to ensure a Just Transition for European workers, regions and cities.