ETUC delegation tells Council President: Austerity does not work – A growth strategy will
(24 May 2012) Bernadette Segol brought a clear message to Council President Herman Van Rompuy: ETUC does not support the continued strategy of austerity. It does not work as the situation in Greece, other countries and the EU indicates. Unemployment and in particular youth unemployment as well as precarious work and the number of working poor increase. A strategy focused on growth, investment and job creation will bring Europe forward and that is what we expect of the Informal Council. A strategy based on deregulation of the labour market will push Europe further into misery. It endangers support for the European Union and contributes to racism and xenophobia. Proposals of the ETUC for a growth strategy include amongst others: Financial Transaction Tax, Eurobonds, Investment, Addressing tax evasion, tax havens and tax fraud, and having a European Central Bank that acts as lender of last resort.
EPSU Deputy General Secretary drew attention to the impact austerity has on public service workers and rather than create jobs destroys jobs (Governments in the UK, Greece and Roumania will cut over 1 million public service jobs they announced). The quality of public services is under pressure and eroded as slashing public spending impacts services from health, education, tax administration to cultural institutions, labour inspectorates, environmental protection agencies, energy regulators etc, with disasters waiting to happen with negative consequences for society. This is not the Europe we want and we expect from the summit a positive and concrete perspective for a Social Europe.
Other colleagues referred to the importance of tackling poverty and increasing inequalities, the need for European industrial policy and green jobs, Deregulation strategies do not work. Social dialogue needs to be promoted and the attacks on trade union rights stopped.
The Council President explained the purpose of the Council meeting in having an open debate on what growth strategies could be pursued. Eurobonds will be on the agenda as well as increasing the role of the European Investment Bank. Creating the Single Market and promoting trade are other issues to ensure Europe benefits from other growing markets. And employment policy will be considered based on the evaluation of the Commission of the job plans Member States had to submit as part of the Annual Growth Survey and National Reform programmes. The Commission is expected to give a first indication of country specific recommendations. Greece will be supported but it is expected to carry out the obligations. For the Council President growth and austerity are two sides of the same coin. He also underlined that with the Euro, Europe is touching much more the daily lives of citizens.
Also participating in the ETUC delegation were a representative of the European Federation IndustriALL, the presidents of Belgium confederations FGTB and CSC, representatives of confederation TUC (UK), UIL (Italy) and CGSLB (Belgium). The meeting took place on 23 May 2012, in Brussels.