G20 Meeting with President Sarkozy
Speech held by ETUC General Secretary Bernadette Ségol at the G20 meeting with President Sarkozy, Paris, 02 November 2011.
We hope that Europe will assert itself fully in the G20.
However, synchronised austerity is not a good example to set the world. I am in constant contact with the Greek unions; they have asked me to reiterate that the regime being imposed upon Greece has led to recession and chaos.We have to learn the lessons from this. There is a price to be paid for a programme such as that being imposed on Greece.
If the Greek government calls for a referendum, we will of course respect its decision. This all serves to reinforce our view that we need a different policy that can restore growth and employment. We have asked for a new Marshall Plan relying on economic solidarity within the European Union, for example with the issue of eurobonds.
Unfortunately, speculators of all kinds are encouraging instability and making massive profits as a result. They are defying democracy and evading taxes.
At the same time, wage inequalities are increasing. European workers’ pay is decreasing. Wages are the engine of the economy. This engine is stalling.
If the Treaties were to be revised, the ETUC would tend, as it has always done, to side with Europe and against a return to national navel-gazing. But our support cannot be considered as unconditional. The Europe that we want is a Europe of solidarity and social progress. We are opposed to protectionism. We do not want to see a repeat of the 1930s.
We are worried at being reduced today to begging. If the prospects put forward by the last summit are set in place, China couldbe a partner to supply additional funds. But in monetary and commercial terms alike, a genuine dialogue cannot be built on false bases: the G20 must ask the Chinese authorities – and indeed those of other countries – to apply decent labour standards if they wish to claim market economy status; the Chinese authorities must also agree to question the problem that their monetary policy poses for exchange rate balance.
The European Council communiqué on 20 October announces that “the social dimension of globalisation must be reinforced”. This is good. We would like to hear more concrete proposals and to be consulted about this.
We also have to think about ourselves. The ETUC is extremely worried at the attacks on trade union rights in Europe, carried out by the Troika in the countries in difficulty such as Greece and Italy, but also by opportunist governments outside the eurozone, such as those in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which are destroying trade union rights, damaging the collective bargaining structures and making a mockery of the social dialogue.
It is not for the G20 to debate our internal problems. We shall not wash our dirty linen in public, but it is clear that we shall not give up. Let me conclude on two positive notes.
We still represent the world’s largest market. There are many who want to invest here and profit from our market. If we are to progress, we have to invest in training and boost efforts in research and development.
We welcome the fact that the Commission has put a tax on financial transactions on to the European agenda, without waiting for unlikely international harmony. And we are grateful for your support and that of Chancellor Merkel.Of course there are some specific questions to be resolved, notably the differentiated rates advanced for ‘ordinary’ transactions vis-à-vis those for derivatives, and that of the utilisation of revenue. We shall come back to these.
In the context of the G20, we urge you to insist on this issue. And I think I can say that all the colleagues around this table will be with you on this subject.
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