Commission hearings: Six big questions workers want answered

A sustainable economy, quality jobs, climate action, fair minimum wages, ethical digitalisation and fair mobility and migration are among the subjects on which trade unions have urged MEPs to grill prospective European Commissioners over the next two weeks.

From today, MEPs will be quizzing each member of Ursula Von Der Leyen’s proposed team before voting on whether to approve the new Commission.

Ahead of the hearings, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has submitted questions to which workers urgently want answers to members of progressive political groups in the European Parliament. They include:

  • To Valdis Dombrovskis and Paolo Gentiloni: How will you reform the EU’s economic governance to deliver on your ambition of an “economy that works for people” by boosting public investment, creating quality jobs and promoting sustainable economic growth?
  • To Nicholas Schmit: Can you ensure that the European Pillar of Social Rights will be turned into concrete legislation that improves the rights of workers, including on health and safety, and will that include a directive to boost wages by extending coverage of collective bargaining?
  • To Frans Timmermans: Recent elections have shown that the social consequences of deindustrialisation is one of the main drivers of anti-EU feeling. Will you ensure that the “Just Transition Fund” goes far beyond skills training to ensure that no regions or workers are left behind in the move to a green economy?
  • To Margrethe Vestager: Will the Commission legislate to ensure workers’ rights are fit for the digital age through a new right to disconnect, stronger data protection and more workplace democracy?
  • To Margaritis Schinas and Ylva Johansson: Will you protect the lives of people fleeing conflict and extreme poverty by putting in place genuine search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean and ending the criminalisation of solidarity activists, while ensuring there are legal channels for economic migration and effective integration of migrants into society and the labour market? 
  • To Phil Hogan: Will you ensure that all EU trade agreements have a sound and enforceable social and environmental sustainability chapter, that social partners are consulted in negotiations on agreements and that a future EU-UK trade agreement upholds workers’ rights by ensuring the British Government cannot compete unfairly by destroying the rights and working conditions of people in the UK?   

ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said:

"Von Der Leyen has put politicians with a strong record of delivering in top posts but personalities mean little without the right policies and there remain some questions about the mandate she has given them.

“These hearings are the first real test of the true level of ambition of the new Commission and trade unions want to know whether it will really deliver on the priorities of European workers over the next five years.

“The new Commission President designate has made big promises to deliver a sustainable economy, quality jobs, climate action, fair minimum wages, ethical digitalisation and fair mobility and migration and now we need to know exactly how those and other important policies are going to be implemented

“Von Der Leyen also still has some big questions to answer herself over improper job titles and the fact her programme ignores health and safety at work, integration of migrants and democracy at work.”