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13th Jun 2021

Austria and Slovakia join club for a social EU

  • Vladimir Spidla - the social affairs commissioner supports the group (Photo: European Commission)

Austria and Slovakia have become the latest member states to join an informal group of governments promoting social Europe and the balance between economic freedom and social rights.

The group - now with 11 members - was set up in February this year at a meeting in Paris where a two-page long declaration was signed in which they argue that the 27-country bloc should be more than just an internal market.

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On the sidelines of the latest EU employment ministers meeting in Brussels on May 30-31, the club - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Spain – met to discuss which social priorities they will push for, reports Swedish news portal Europa-Nytt.

In Autumn they are set to concentrate on the EU discussion of "flexicurity" – a labour market model with a combination of easy hiring and firing (flexibility) and high benefits for the unemployed (security) currently used in EU members Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands.

Another subject is set to be about how social services should be handled within the EU.

The group argues that a Europe of 27 member states "cannot just be a free trade zone but shall guarantee the necessary balance between economic freedom and social rights," it says in their declaration, which has also been supported by EU social affairs commissioner Vladimir Spidla.

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