Statement by President von der Leyen following the Tripartite Social Summit

Thank you very much, indeed we had a very productive meeting, a very good Tripartite Social Summit. And it was symbolic I think, and it showed the strength of our cooperation. The discussion today confirmed that we have more or less a common view on competitiveness and the importance of competitiveness. Competitiveness in a sense that it ensures on the one hand prosperity and growth, and on the other hand quality jobs in Europe, so what the hallmark of our social market economy is. And this is happening against the backdrop of growing challenges through climate change.

Our first focus was on the proposals tabled by the Commission last week, and this is mainly the focus on the clean-tech industry, our Green Deal Industrial Plan. We discussed with the social partners the proposals to keep Europe in a pole position in the clean-tech economy and to secure good-quality jobs in Europe. And it is very clear from our discussion, we also felt that Europe has to accelerate. This is the essence of the Net-Zero Industry Act. With the Net-Zero Industry Act, we want to make the European Union the home of clean-tech industries. We are setting clear targets. And we are planning to achieve the targets with speed, with simplification and with funding. This is a very clear message to our clean-tech sector and for quality jobs in Europe.

The second proposal is about the Critical Raw Materials Act. To succeed in the green and digital transitions, we need to secure access to critical raw materials. We need to strengthen and diversify our supply chains. The Critical Raw Materials Act looks at what is needed domestically to improve refining, processing and – very important – the recycling of critical raw materials in Europe. But it also looks of course at the global stage, for example, the proposal to create a critical raw materials club with reliable partners. Important for the topic of reliable partners is that it will bring jobs in our industry, but also to our reliable partners, with highest standards for working conditions and protection of the environment. This is, in connection with the critical raw materials, crucial and essential for us.

Centrepiece of our discussions was the topic of skills. We need a skilled workforce to create and keep quality jobs in Europe. And those jobs need to be attractive to workers. So skills are part and parcel of our Green Deal Industrial Plan. We need to develop clean-tech skills – for batteries, for solar, for hydrogen, you name it, all these topics. And here, the social partners have the important role to play. You, the social partners, know best how to match people’s aspirations and their skills with the companies’ needs. That is a very fine web that has to be woven. So our skills agenda relies very much on the social partners’ dialogue. It is accompanied by massive investment on the European level in skills of around EUR 65 billion from our MFF and NextGenerationEU.

Finally, our hallmark in Europe is our social market economy. As I said at the beginning, this balance between prosperity and economic success on the one hand, and social responsibility and protection on the other hand. This is the source of the success of the Single Market. It has been the backbone of the Single Market over 30 years now. And these balanced solutions too are found between social partners and a legislative framework that respects the strong roles of social partners. That is in my view the recipe for success. Therefore, our competitiveness strategy goes hand in hand with a strong social agenda.

Thank you very much for the very fruitful Tripartite Social Summit.