Monday

26th Jun 2017

'Doubts about benefits of EU are growing'

  • Segol: 'When is growth going to come?' (Photo: DG EMPL)

Rising unemployment, bleak economic prospects and continued austerity is making people question the benefits of the EU, Europe's top trade unionist has said.

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s (14 March) EU summit, Bernadette Segol, head of the European Trade Union Confederation, said the current policies “have failed.”

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Thousands of people protested in the EU quarter on Thursday (Photo: Meabh McMahon)

“We are in a double dip recession. Unemployment is up, up and up. When is growth going to come?”

Segol, who met top EU politicians for a ‘social dialogue’, said she tried to convey a sense of “urgency” to leaders about member states where “doubts about the benefits of the European Union is showing more and more.”

Her words come as EU leaders meet for their traditional Spring summit, focusing on boosting the economy.

They are gathering amid grim statistics. Eurozone unemployment is at a record high of 11.8 percent. And the euro area is set for a worse-than-expected 0.3 percent contraction this year.

But most governments, led by Germany, continue to stick with the austerity route of slashing public spending and raising taxes to rein in budget deficits.

The draft conclusions for the summit acknowledge that unemployment is the “most important social challenge facing us.”

It also makes a reference to the “flexibility” of the rules underpinning the euro when it comes to balancing public investment and fiscal prudence.

But the necessity of “fiscal consolidation” continues to be emphasized.

Ahead of the summit, EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso stressed that member states need to progress with structural reforms as a way of ensuring growth.

But Segol disagreed. Structural reforms put the “burden” on workers already paying for the crisis, she said. What is needed is more investment, possible if there was “political will.”

She also chided Markus Breyrer, Director General of industry association BusinessEurope, for being complacent about the future of Europe’s Social Model.

“We are not that confident. Policies that are being implemented are attacking industrial relations system, are putting pressure on wages, are weakening public services, and weakening social protection. These are the core aspects of the social model.”

Outside the summit venue, meanwhile, thousands of people protested against austerity.

“Competitiveness pact: No. Austerity Pact: No. Solidarity Pact: Yes” read one large banner in front of the European Commission.

Parents of EU children win right to stay

Countries cannot automatically refuse residence to parents of EU children simply because the other parent could care for the minor, the EU's top court ruled on Wednesday.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit