EU economic policy-making – known as the ‘European Semester’ - comes to a climax with the annual ‘Country Specific Recommendations’ which are due to be published today by the European Commission.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) supports the emphasis placed this year by the European Commission on tackling inequality, and expects the ‘Country Specific Recommendations’ to feature concrete proposals to do so.
In particular, the ETUC expects the European Commission draft Country Specific Recommendations to
- Encourage pay increases to drive economic recovery throughout Europe by
- Helping to preserve and extend the number of workers covered by collective agreements negotiated by employers and trade unions. Recommendations to this effect are especially needed in Italy, Spain, Romania, Belgium, Hungary, Croatia, Lithuania, Estonia and Cyprus.
- Supporting wage rises. Recommendations are especially needed to allow wages to contribute to growth in Spain, UK, Portugal, Finland and Cyprus; and to contribute more to growth in Germany, Poland, Romania, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia.
- Encourage at least a 0,5% increase in public spending, including in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Latvia, and measures to increase private investment in countries including Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia and Latvia.
- Discourage precarious employment contracts across Europe to boost productivity and tackle inequality including: the level of temporary contracts in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands; part-time work on very low wages in France and Germany; and low or intermittent working hours including in UK and Ireland. Precarious work also need to be addressed in recommendation for Italy, Poland and Cyprus.
“EU economic policy needs to drive economic recovery by pushing for pay rises and more public and private investment” said Katja Lehto-Komulainen, Deputy General Secretary of the ETUC. “The best way to achieve fair pay rises is through collective bargaining. EU economic policy needs to support collective bargaining, and encourage the help spread the benefit of collective agreements to more workers.”
“Profits have been increasing since 2009 but investment remains at a lower proportion of GDP than before the crisis, and public investment is faring even worse.
“The Country Reports which were published earlier this year, and which precede the recommendations, show very clearly the negative impact that temporary and other types of precarious work have on productivity. The recommendations need to help boost productivity by increasing wages and public investment, and discouraging precarious work across Europe.”