When the ETUC accepted the internal market as the EU's pivotal project, the Commission promised and delivered a strong social dimension: an ambitious social policy agenda, several legislative initiatives on health and safety at work and gender equality, as well as promotion of social dialogue. The internal market strategy did not concern competition alone, but was a balanced approach.
For a long time, the Commission focused only on efforts to complete the internal market by promoting liberalisation and privatisation. Less importance was attached to the social dimension.
Now the Commission has published a communication on the single market in the 21st century. It has turned once again to the social dimension, announcing a renewed Social Agenda. The strategy it unveils for services of general interest, however, is totally unsatisfactory to the ETUC and we fear that this will also be the case for other proposals for action. Revision of the European Works Councils Directive must start as soon as possible and be successfully completed by the end of 2008.
The ETUC agrees that the EU should take action where markets do not deliver, but there is no self-criticism of liberalisation and privatisations. The ETUC expects the Commission to take action and not just to pay lip service to the social dimension. The internal market cannot bring benefits for business alone, but must also serve workers.