EU Summit: ETUC urges European leaders to demonstrate active commitment to social policy

Brussels, 14/12/2007

The ETUC urged the European Council to follow the example of employment ministers, the European Parliament and the European social partners and take a balanced approach to common principles for flexicurity.

The ETUC is pleased to note that flexicurity is no longer being confused with the easy firing of workers. Surveys [[Dublin Foundation, Fourth survey of working conditions in Europe, 2006]] indicate that European workers attach high value to secure jobs and that the certainty of not being out of work in the coming six to nine months is seen as the most important element of job quality.

However, the ETUC draws attention to:

- the need to implement flexicurity with care at national level, promoting transition from precarious to secure jobs with stable and open-ended contracts, and without creating loopholes in existing labour law;
- the vital role of the social partners (European and national) and collective bargaining in both designing and implementing flexicurity policies;
- the need for new and reliable indicators to assess progress. The ETUC warns against adopting the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) indicator on employment protection legislation, which would undermine business regulations and obligations.

The ETUC notes the Commission's Strategic Report on the Lisbon Growth and Jobs Strategy. While welcoming the creation of 6.5 million new jobs, the ETUC urged EU leaders to prioritise job quality in the forthcoming cycle to be launched in 2008.

The ETUC's demand for more and better jobs remains more valid than ever, reinforced by the need to promote equal rights for workers with flexible working arrangements, such as temporary agency workers,” said ETUC General Secretary John Monks. “Evidence shows that structural reforms must be based on the principle that social Europe is a factor of productivity and, as the social partners' recent Joint Labour Market Analysis has underlined, Member States must do more to implement not merely the letter but also the principles of the European social aquis.”

A renewed and modern Social Agenda, as announced by the European Commission for 2008, will need to include concrete answers to ongoing problems like poverty, inequality and precarious work.