In October 2007, European leaders reached agreement on the Lisbon Treaty for reform of the EU. ETUC was pleased to see the end of the institutional paralysis that had gripped the EU since the French and Dutch referenda of 2005, but was deeply disappointed by the uninspiring content of the final text.
While it is an improvement on the Nice Treaty, it is also a missed opportunity to reinforce social Europe and rekindle popular enthusiasm for the EU project. The outcome of the Irish referendum on 12 June 2008 underlined the need for a much stronger social edge to be quickly introduced into European policy.
ETUC supported the EU’s draft Constitutional Treaty, signed by EU leaders in Rome on 29 October 2004 and urged affiliates to campaign for a ‘yes’ vote in countries that held national referenda. That text would have provided a springboard for progress towards a stronger Social Europe.
The European Convention, which took responsibility for drafting the text of the future Constitution, met between February 2002 and July 2003. It comprised representatives from governments and parliaments in all the EU Member States and Accession Countries. It also invited a number of organisations to be official observers, including the ETUC.
On 27 November 2002, former General Secretary Emilio Gabaglio delivered the ETUC’s comprehensive contribution to the Convention, calling for the Constitution to recognise a European system of industrial relations with a stronger role for the social partners at all levels.
To reaffirm the pre-eminence of fundamental rights and confirm the social dimension of the EU, ETUC proposes to add a Social Progress Protocol as an annex to the EU treaties.
Further information on the Lisbon Treaty can be accessed via the following links: