Thursday

17th Aug 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.”

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

News in Brief

  1. Russian power most feared in Europe
  2. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  3. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns
  4. Danish police to investigate misuse of EU fishing rules
  5. German constitutional court questions ECB's €2tn spending
  6. Low support for Norway's labour party ahead of elections
  7. Slovakia's future is with core EU, says PM
  8. Italy relieved as migration drops to lowest level since 2014

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  3. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  5. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  6. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  8. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  9. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  10. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides
  11. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  12. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey