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European Law Monitor newsThe Commission promotes the social dimension of the Energy Community

Today, a Memorandum of Understanding on the social dimension of the Energy Community was signed in Vienna.

"The signature of the Memorandum of Understanding will mark the start of a process of permanent dialogue on social issues in the Energy Community to accompany the substantial changes that the energy sector needs to face." Commissioner Piebalgs welcomed today's signing ceremony from Brussels.

Commenting from the tripartite social summit in Lisbon Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities also welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding which will help to strengthen social dialogue in the Balkans in the gas and electricity sector and reinforce the social dimension of the energy treaty.

With the Energy Community Treaty that entered into force on 1st July 2006, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and UNMIK have decided to apply the main elements of the European energy policy, in particular as regards the internal market in gas and electricity.

The process of opening-up the electricity and gas energy markets offers new economic and employment opportunities. It implies acceptance of competition and clear rules concerning the functioning of the market. It also implies addressing social consequences linked with the restructuring of energy companies, the introduction of market prices for energy and the protection of workers and vulnerable customers.

  Therefore, the Commission proposed a Memorandum of Understanding on social issues that was signed today. The main provisions of the Memorandum aim at:

       * Involving the social partners • trade unions and employers • in developments affecting labour relations at all levels and in management of change and promoting social dialogue;
       * Focusing on those parts of the social acquis that are   most important for the sectors covered by the Energy Community (Health and Safety at work, Equal opportunities, Labour law, Workers' fundamental rights);
       * Addressing issues linked to the protection of vulnerable customers, energy poverty and affordability.

The Memorandum of Understanding will be the basis for further developing a structured dialogue on these issues, bringing together national and European social partners acting in the Energy sectors of the region within a regular forum.
The full text of the Memorandum of Understanding is available on:

http://www.energy-community.org/