25th Aug 2019

Barroso to focus on social agenda ahead of elections

  • Mr Barroso has indicated that he would like to be commission president for a second time. (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Commission has embarked on a social policy drive ahead of the European elections next year.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso - a centre-right politician - gathered his colleagues for a day's discussion on Tuesday (29 April) focussing on "solidarity, access and opportunities and development of the social agenda."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The following day, the Brussels executive announced that it would table a "social package" before the summer.

The move comes after delays in key social policy legislation as well as a number of EU court judgements that have led to the perception that workers' rights are being undermined in Europe.

"This will be a broader package that will bring together different strands of the societal and the social agenda," said the commission's spokesperson on Wednesday.

The package will contain several pieces of legislation that normally would be made public independently of one another.

It is to include a long-awaited proposal on patients' cross-border health care rights as well as proposals on anti-discrimination and educational issues.

The health care proposal, which is meant to boost the rights of patients looking for treatment in other member states under certain conditions, has been delayed since December, while it recently emerged that the commission is backing away from including gays and lesbians in a forthcoming anti-discrimination bill.

The commission is also expected to announce revised legislation on the European Works Council as part of the package. Dating from 1994, the current law gives workers the right to consultation and information on company decisions.

It applies to companies with 1,000 or more workers, and at least 150 employees in a minimum of two member states. Trade unions have been calling for its revision as it has been poorly implemented by companies.

The commission indicated that it hopes that by presenting the package either at the end of June or beginning of July, it can still get it through the Brussels legislative channels before parliament breaks up in spring next year to start campaigning for the June European elections.

The timing is important to Mr Barroso, an EU official told EUobserver. He has repeatedly indicated that he would like to be commission president for a second time.

But this will depend on how EU citizens vote, as the commission president is to be chosen in light of the elections. If the socialists overtake the centre-right to upset the current balance of power in the EU assembly, then Mr Barroso will not win the post again.

Recent indications from the parliament have shown that left-wing politicians intend to make discussion of recent judgements on workers rights by the European Court of Justice a key part of their election campaigns.

Its most recent judgement in this area compounded the feeling among parts of the electorate that the internal market takes precedence over employee rights.

In the German Ruffert case, the court ruled that a regional law in lower Saxony that states public contracts may only be awarded to companies that promise to pay their employees the minimum wage breached an EU law.

The EU's highest court reached a similar decision in the Swedish Laval case late last year when it found that Swedish unions cannot force a foreign company to observe local pay deals.

These rulings were strongly condemned by trade unions, while left wing MEPs said they are an invitation to social dumping.

EU parliament backs whistleblower law

MEPs backed an EU law to protect whistleblowers from retaliation in both the public and private sectors. EU states will have two years to transpose the directive.

EU commission to map gender recognition

The European Commission will start looking at how EU states determine genders - as part of an effort to make it easier for people to determine their own identities.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations


FIFA's schools programme aims to reach 700m children

Football clubs today invest huge sums of money in youth development and court talented young players from an early age. Children are the future – not only where football is concerned, but also for society in general.


A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us