ETUC statement on sustainable European future

On 22 November the European Commission published it proposals for applying the UN Sustainable Development Goals, not only in its external development and cooperation policies, but also within Europe.

The ETUC supports the Sustainable Development Goals, welcomes the role played by the European Union in developing and adopting them, and welcomes the fact that they will apply to Europe as well as to other countries.

The goals addressing poverty, healthy lives, lifelong learning, gender equality, full employment and decent work for all, inequality and climate change (and the other goals) are not only relevant but important to European society, as well as to less developed countries.

At the same time, the ETUC notes that the European Commission’s communication on ‘Next steps for a sustainable European future’ merely sets out existing (or forthcoming) policies that are relevant to the goals and makes no new proposals for achieving the goals. The ETUC appreciates the European Commission acknowledging in its communication the importance of the Pillar of Social Rights for implementing the goals in Europe.  

The ETUC wants to make it absolutely clear that the SDGs cannot be achieved through existing EU policies alone, and that the new proposals in the pipeline (even if they were very ambitious) would not be enough.

While it is too early to make a comprehensive analysis it is clear, in particular, that

-       without a major change in economic policy, and without a huge increase in investment including public investment (almost impossible without a revision of the misnamed ‘Growth and Stability Pact’), full employment will remain an empty promise that will only further disillusion European workers;

-       the forthcoming Pillar of Social Rights, in particular,  would have to be far more ambitious than the ETUC believes it will be, to make a major change in the likelihood of achieving the goals.

The EU needs new and ambitious policies to achieve the goals in Europe by 2030. The ETUC’s ‘platform’ for the Future of Europe sets out some of the policies that would be required

The ETUC is determined to see the goals implemented, will promote their implementation in Europe and globally, and will actively engage with the European institutions to ensure full implementation.

The ETUC will work with its European and national affiliates to raise awareness of the goals, especially the need to implement them in Europe, and encourage all affiliates to engage actively in their national and Europe-wide implementation.

The ETUC will work with the ITUC, and will encourage its members to work with global sectoral unions, to engage actively in their implementation in regions outside Europe.