Energy policies should support development and help create more and better jobs, while seeking a tighter focus on energy efficiency and conservation so as to protect the environment against global warming and pollution. In Europe, energy policy may come under the competence of the national states, but this is clearly a global and continental issue, too. Governments need to forge a new consensus on energy policy within a broader framework of international governance covering the management of energy resources, distribution, conservation and efficiency. The views of trade unions need to be taken into account, and social dialogue procedures implemented at all levels to enable this.
Energy price increases and volatility undercut competitiveness. Workers in energy-intensive companies and domestic consumers suffer considerable hardship as a result. This has been aggravated, in some countries, by the way in which the energy sector was privatised and handed over to market forces alone. In many countries, the public authorities have failed to address the conflicting concerns of opening markets to competition whilst guaranteeing secure energy supplies at affordable prices.
The job losses in the energy industries have been huge in recent decades. In the long term, new jobs may be created, linked to the creation of alternative energy sources or to investment in energy savings. Social plans are needed to accompany this transition process and in some countries they need to be very comprehensive.