Visit of President Bush to the EU

Brussels, 21/02/2005

The EU and US have many common values, and we wish to build on them. Ours are founded on the Charter of Fundamental Rights embedded in the proposed Constitution, including a social market economy, social dialogue, decent public services and workers' rights. They are not negotiable.

ETUC General Secretary, John Monks, said “I have been intrigued at the interest shown by the US Administration in the EU's Lisbon Agenda. But I would warn the Commission not to place this on the bargaining table in an attempt to trade off further liberalisation in Europe against action by the United States to reduce their massive deficits and to stabilise their exchange rate, however desirable such American action would be.”

The ETUC is also concerned at the apparent disregard of the EU and US authorities of their stated objective of fostering people-to-people dialogue across all stakeholders. The exclusive emphasis given to business links will not bring the people of Europe and of the United States closer together, but rather alienate them. The continuing refusal of the United States to ratify and implement international core labour standards, such as those on freedom of association and rights to bargain collectively, is another issue of concern to the trade union movement.

The ETUC has forged close contacts and understanding with the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations in the United States and we will continue to work together in the interests of hard working families on both sides of the Atlantic.