European Trade Unions urge the Austrian EU Presidency to give a new impetus to Social Europe

Brussels, 11/01/2006

The first half of 2006 should mark a new start for the European Union. “The concept of Social Europe must be central to the development of an EU where economic and social progress go hand in hand,” said John Monks. “The European approach must be the promotion of a social market economy with social rights.”

The ETUC is calling on the Presidency to give new backing to the Lisbon Strategy goals, through investment in economic growth, innovation, research and development, lifelong learning and creating high quality jobs.
It welcomes the Austrian pledge to revive debate over the EU Constitution and its role in the future of Europe, following its rejection by French and Dutch voters last year and the subsequent 'period of reflection'. “ The ETUC wishes to play an active role in this debate and expects to be part of any new initiative,” said John Monks.

The ETUC emphasises that reaching a balanced decision on the draft Services Directive is crucial to promoting the social dimension of the internal market. The trade union delegation will urge the Austrian Presidency to put forward a new proposal that takes account of trade union criticisms and maintains standards of worker protection in the EU.
Some other key demands include:
- a change in economic policy to promote growth, through a European Initiative for Recovery;
- urgent agreement on a budget for 2007-2013, to support stronger EU cohesion;
- an end to the opt-out in the revised Working Time Directive;
- ambitious action to implement the European Youth Pact.

- ETUC memorandum to the Austrian Presidency