Bernadette Ségol, ETUC General Secretary, has this to say: ‘2013 is set to be a difficult year. Europe is collapsing into crisis. Unemployment is hitting record heights, as we can see from the latest Eurostat figures. For the first time, the jobless total has gone above 26 million. We need to focus our efforts first of all on tackling unemployment, insecurity and inequalities. We can no longer pin our hopes for a change to the social situation on some theoretical improvement in the economic situation ’.
Some positive proposals have been put forward, such as the guarantee for young people. We also welcome the positive analysis of the role played by minimum wages in driving down inequalities. Unfortunately, though, the measures in favour of social investment remain no more than promises. The Commission has also lost sight of the fact that real pay needs to increase with productivity. In general, the conclusions in the Commission’s report are not up to the task of dealing with the challenges we face. In its report, the Commission does no more than issue advice to the Member States. There has been no new concrete European act.
Bernadette Ségol adds: ‘The European Commission’s report has done no more than lend further credibility to what we have been saying for years: austerity doesn’t work. This week, the International Monetary Fund has once again acknowledged its mistakes: it has seriously underestimated the impact of the austerity measures on Europe’s economies. For its part, the Commission has not questioned itself; yet it does bear its share of responsibility in the choices that have been made, because it has encouraged the austerity that has made the situation worse. If we don’t see some strong policies able to reverse this trend, we will find ourselves facing an even more painful future ’.