ETUC meets Portuguese Presidency to set out Trade Union priorities

Brussels, 29/06/2007

The Presidency will rapidly convene an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to finalise the treaty amendments negotiated by the European Council. The ETUC will raise a number of outstanding questions left by the EU summit, including the precise status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, a legal framework for vital public services, the role of the social partners, and decision-making procedures in areas such as social policy and migration. The ETUC will closely monitor the work of the IGC to ensure that commitments are maintained and to push for further improvements, including a prominent place for the social partners, social dialogue and collective bargaining.

The delegation will also urge the incoming Portuguese EU Presidency to push forward in identifying ways to promote the European Social Model. With regard to 'flexicurity', as a means to achieve more and better jobs and social protection, trade unions will call for input from the social partners to be stepped up. “Strengthening industrial relations systems at European and national levels is key to improving flexicurity,” said John Monks. “A strong and dynamic social dialogue and collective bargaining, where the social partners can actively negotiate and influence outcomes, is vital.”

The ETUC prepares its list of priorities for action in the social and economic fields at the start of each new EU Presidency, and monitors progress during the six-month duration.

This time it identifies other important challenges facing the incoming EU leadership:

- Work will start on a new three-year cycle of integrated guidelines within the context of the Lisbon Strategy. The ETUC calls on the Presidency to put good jobs at the heart of its approach, and to carry out an in-depth study of job quality in Europe.
- The EU needs to develop an internal market that gives equal weight to social, as well as commercial aspects; and this requires framework legislation on public services as well.

EU leaders must also give urgent priority to achieving sustainable development through measures to control climate change and manage energy supply.

Highlighting legislative proposals that are still pending, the ETUC calls on the Portuguese Presidency to push forward the revision of the Working Time Directive and adoption of the Temporary Agency Workers Directive.

The ETUC also calls on the Portuguese Presidency to adopt active external policies, in accord with basic principles such as those of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Social and environmental standards must be respected in all EU bilateral and multilateral trade and partnership deals. In particular, the EU-Africa summit, scheduled to take place in the coming months, will offer an important opportunity to promote decent labour standards, social partnership, and good governance.

Joining the delegation with John Monks, ETUC General Secretary, will be the newly elected ETUC President Wanja Lundby-Wedin, Deputy General Secretary Maria Helena André, and the leaders of the ETUC's Portuguese affiliates CGTP-IN (Confederação Geral dos Trabalhadores Portugueses) and UGT-P (União Geral de Trabalhadores).

- Trade Union Memorandum to the Portuguese Presidency