The state of youth engagement in the implementation of the EU’s Just Transition Mechanism

Generation Climate Europe and CEE Bankwatch Network

The Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) is a regional development programme of the European Union (EU) aiming to support decarbonisation in those regions whose economy depends on the production or consumption of fossil fuels. Spearheaded by the €19.5 billion investments of the Just Transition Fund (JTF), the JTM is supposed to create new low-emission economic activities and reskill workers currently employed in fossil fuels-related sectors. Its intervention is expected to diversify the economy of those regions and end their dependency on fossil fuels.

In order to access funding, Member States must prepare dedicated planning documents called Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTPs) for their regions that depend on fossil fuels. The TJTPs must justify the need for investments in those regions and outline a clear pathway for the phasing out of fossil fuels and the launch of new green economic activities. EU Member States have been preparing their TJTPs throughout 2020 and 2021. Now, in the first half of 2022, the European Commission is expected to review and approve the TJTPs to start financing
the transitions they outline.

As it is required to access all regional development funds of the EU, the TJTPs are also supposed to comply with the partnership principle, which requires the national governments to prepare and manage their plans with inputs and support from local authorities, businesses, social actors and civil society representatives. Since the economic restructuring envisaged in the TJTPs will have long-lasting effects on the targeted communities, a strong implementation of the partnership principle is fundamental to make sure the people living in these communities are engaged in the decisions on their future from start to end.

In particular, young people aged 16-29, as the next generations to live in those territories, have a central role to play in the development of TJTPs and the visions these plans outline – a role that is recognised and actively promoted by the EU itself. However, the past reports from Bankwatch on the state of TJTPs have revealed that the partnership principle has been applied in very different ways across and within EU Member States, with several regions in which civil society representatives have not been engaged. This poses the serious risk that even young people in those communities will not have a say in the decisions impacting their own future and career opportunities.

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