Letter to Vice-President Dombrovskis regarding Spanish recovery plan

 Dear Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis,

We, the ETUC and its Spanish members CCOO and UGT, would like to communicate to you our deep concerns regarding the interference of services of the European Commission in the Spanish Government’s work on the Spanish National Plan for Recovery and Resilience.

In our view, such political pressure aimed at determining content and milestones of the NRRP dealing with collective bargaining structures and reduction of job instability goes beyond the mandate that the RRF Regulation grants the European Commission.

We want to stress that inputs arrived from services of the European Commission do not comply with the RRF Regulation for the following reasons:

·      They contradict the role of the European Commission as guarantor of social dialogue, positioning itself instead in a role of validating  this dialogue, and taking competence it does not have  to override or amend what is decided in social dialogue in a member state.

·      Regarding the specific situation with collective bargaining, the prevalence of company agreements over sector agreements was one the changes introduced by the 2012 labour reform to produce deep internal wage devaluation. At that time European Commission was promoting expansionary austerity to overcome recession, which led to higher job losses and companies folding, and higher unemployment, poverty and inequality. The European Commission is assuming “de facto” the position of the business representatives in this debate.

·      They contradict what the European Commission is affirming about the value of collective bargaining, especially the role that sector collective bargaining plays in effective and balanced wage formation. 

·      Furthermore, the RRF Regulation warns that National Plans should not affect the right to conclude or enforce collective agreements. Therefore, we do not expect that the European Commission to stop member states from rebuilding collective bargaining structures. Not least, such a stand would contradict the recent Communication on the Implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights I.

·      Also, the European Commission has aligned with employers’ positions forcing the Spanish Labour Ministry to do their planned two stage labour reform (first, the rebalancing of bargaining power and second, the cutting down of contract segmentation after the economic recovery is reached) at once and before the end of this year. This will undermine the efficacy of the reform and make the agreement less likely.

We are surprised by such an extensive and specific position by the Commission at this moment. That line of action recalls the use of conditionalities that proved to be harmful in the past and that are today not in place.

Furthermore, your interview in the El País on the 31st of March appeared in the middle of a negotiation round between social partners and the Spanish Government. Your negative assessment of envisaged reforms of collective bargaining and labour market have been perceived as an undue interference in social dialogue.

The responsibility for designing and implementing NRRP belongs to national governments in cooperation with economic and social players. Social partners are better placed to establish content and timing of reforms in the best interests of Spanish workers and businesses and Spain as a whole. The above mentioned interference puts at risk comprehensive reforms that would provide policy response to challenges related to the Spanish labour market and in particular temporary employment and youth unemployment. They also resulted in an inacceptable interference in national social dialogue and autonomy of social partners.

We are addressing our concerns to you, Dear Vice President, and requesting you to remedy this unexpected and unfortunate situation and we ask you to schedule a meeting with us to explain in greater detail trade union proposals for reform of the labour market and to enhance recovery and resilience in the Spanish economy. We would also like to be reassured that Spain’s access to European resources will not be subject to conditionalities related to reforms that are not foreseen in the RRF and go against its social objectives.

As the negotiations between social partners are proceeding at fast pace to let the Spanish government present the National Plan in due time, we would be grateful if you could provide a prompt answer to our letter and schedule a meeting within the necessary time.

Yours sincerely, 




Luca Visentini

Unai Sordo Calvo

Jose Maria Álvarez Suárez

ETUC General Secretary

CCOO General Secretary

UGT-E General Secretary