The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) wrote a letter today to the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission to ask for urgent meetings with the aim to discuss how to reinforce the social partners’ involvement in the design, governance and implementation of MFF and Recovery Plan, at both European and national levels. ETUC also insists on ensuring that respect of social dialogue, collective bargaining and workplace democracy are binding conditions for funding.
While welcoming the recent adoption by the Council of the €750bn EU Recovery Plan to face COVID19 crisis and the €1,074bn Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, some aspects of the agreement reached by the Council are either negative or need clarification. These include:
- Insistence of some member states to cut the proposed funds, particularly grants, and to introduce Council control over national recovery plans, thus potentially leading to harmful austerity and structural reforms;
- Cuts to the proposed Just Transition Fund, health measures, funding for research and innovation, and measures for solvency and restructuring support, where the overall EU budget is not big enough to deliver ambitious green and digital transformation and adequate resources for cohesion, convergence and social priorities;
- Absence of any reference to the social dimension, to the European Pillar of Social Rights, and to the need to protect and create massive employment opportunities; the employment crisis the EU is going to face in the autumn is the real emergency;
- No guarantee of a proper involvement of social partners at EU, national and sectoral level in the governance of the Plan, in the design and implementation of the investment’s priorities, and in the monitoring of the results.
Regarding the content of the Recovery Plan, the ETUC asks both Presidents to consider the need to:
- Uphold the rule-of-law in all EU member states, and that those who flout it do not have access to EU financial support;
- Clarify the governance/emergency brake mechanisms to avoid national recovery plans being held up in Council as a means of delaying payments, and above all to avoid the future imposition of damaging fiscal conditions and austerity;
- Reverse the cuts to the Just Transition Fund and make the 2050 and 2030 targets binding conditions for funding;
- Restore health-related funding;
- Restore the Solvency Support funding;
- Reverse the cuts to InvestEU, Horizon Europe, ReactEU, and restore the external action related programmes (NDICI, Humanitarian Aid);
- Preserve social investment in the MFF, reinforcing the ESF+, restore the European social model and social protection systems, by fully implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights and the UN Agenda 2030.
The ETUC urges all EU institutions and national governments to support the recovery plan and to make its implementation as the highest priority, by enforcing national and sectoral recovery plans in a timely manner.
Finally, the European trade union movement is convinced that reforms of EU governance and decision-making, as well as further integration of the Eurozone cannot be delayed any further.
The Conference on the Future of Europe is therefore even more crucial, and the ETUC invites the Presidents of the European Council and European Commission to ensure that social partners’ participation is guaranteed, that veto-rights are avoided, and that a more social and fairer EU is built, including through a Social Progress Protocol to be included in the Treaties.