The outcome of the Bratislava Summit falls well short of the expectations of the ETUC, and of the joint statement made by trade unions and civil society organisations ‘A new Europe for people, planet and prosperity for all’ https://www.etuc.org/press/new-europe-people-planet-and-prosperity-all#.V9_HZ_B97cs.
The Bratislava Declaration and Roadmap are as notable for what they do not say, as for the few vague things they do say.
Notable for their absence in the Declaration and Roadmap are any acknowledgement of:
- The economic reality of very low growth and very slow recovery, high unemployment, inequality and poverty, or the need to change economic course, or even revision of the misnamed ‘Growth and Stability Pact’;
- The need to increase public investment in quality services, as well as in EU investment funds targeting industries with the greatest potential for sustainable growth and quality job creation and those countries and regions most need of investment, including through fair taxation of multi-national corporations;
- The need for a pay rise for European workers to boost economic demand and sustainable growth (and to level out differences in wages through higher increases in countries and sectors, and among workers, with lower wages); and to achieve this by encouraging collecting bargaining and increasing minimum wages;
- The proposed Pillar of Social Rights, or indeed any new initiative to tackle ‘social insecurity’ beyond what is already on the EU’s limited agenda;
- Any problem with partnering with Turkey, a country that is committing widespread human and democratic rights abuses within its own borders and clearly has its own agenda in the Syrian conflict, to keep refugees out of Europe;
- The need to implement decisions on relocating refugees within the EU, or for the EU to meet its international obligations towards refugees.
The ETUC notes that the Roadmap dismisses the reality of mass youth unemployment, poverty and loss of hope among citizens as “fears … related to economic and social insecurity”.
The lack of ambition and agreement is highlighted in the Declaration which claims that the EU “has the will and capacity” to “offer our citizens … a vision of an attractive EU” “in the upcoming months”.
The ETUC awaits more than a vision, and expects specific proposals to improve economic policies to tackle unemployment and inequality, and raise standards of living for all workers; and to create new and progressive social policies and rights.
The ETUC believes that the decisions timetabled in the Roadmap could still remedy the crises facing Europe if, EU leaders show more unity, and higher ambition for a more Social Europe, in their decision-making than at this disappointing Bratislava Summit.
The ETUC will therefore continue to press for the necessary policy changes at EU and national level, as already agreed at ETUC Congress and in the ETUC Action Plan adopted by the Executive Committee.