“High employment rates and signs of improvement for the youth”, this is how the European Commission advertises the current Quarterly Report on Employment and Social Developments in the EU. The Commission far too often paints a too rosy picture of the economic and social development in Europe. However, from the AK’s point of view, additional efforts have to be made at European level to ensure that the increased growth and employment rates also improve people’s working and living conditions. 

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On Tuesday, 7 June 2022, the EU legislators reached agreement in the negotiations on the Women on Boards Directive. From 2026, listed companies must fill at least 40% of their board positions with women or alternatively must have an average share of women of 33% for both executive boards, i. e. supervisory board and corporate board.

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With a new resolution, the EU Parliament urged the EU Commission on 9 June 2022 to ban products from the EU market, which are made by forced labour and under inhumane conditions. AK welcomes this motion by the EU Parliament.

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The EU Directive on minimum wages has taken an important step this week: on 7 June 2022, the negotiations between EU Commission, EU Parliament and Council reached a breakthrough in form of a provisional agreement. The main objectives of the Directive, to achieve fair wages in Europe and to strengthen collective bargaining, are important projects to advance a social Europe. It is to be welcomed that with this important socio-political legal act, the EU clearly departs from the austerity course of earlier years.

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The EU Commission is currently working on guidelines, which would make direct awards in public transport significantly more difficult. To address this subject, AK EUROPA, together with ÖGB, vida and the European Transport Workers Federation ETF hosted a webinar, where speakers made it clear: Member States should still have the choice whether they want competitive tendering or directly award transport services.

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As part of the European Semester, the EU Commission each year publishes Country Reports and country-specific recommendations with the objective to improve the coordination of Member States’ economic policy. From the AK’s point of view, the Country Report for Austria, which was submitted on 23 May 2022, comprises positive approaches in some areas.

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Various forms of guaranteed minimum income schemes exist in EU Member States, which in most cases only provide insufficient protection against poverty. In order to support Member States in alleviating poverty and preventing social exclusion, the EU Commission has launched a Consultation concerning a planned Recommendation on minimum income schemes on 4 March 2022. The AK too contributed its expertise and positions.

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According to the estimate of Eurostat, 21.9% of the EU population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2020. This worrying situation is contrasted with minimum income schemes in Member States that have enormous shortcomings – from coverage to adequacy of benefits to lack of evaluation mechanisms.

 

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Nikolai Soukup

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Alice Wagner (Büro Brüssel)

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The Labour Market Monitor 2021 shows that some countries came through the crisis relatively unscathed, whereas others appear to be less resilient. Austria is falling behind top performers in some areas, but is mainly still above EU average. Only regarding the exclusion risks on the labour market, Austria is behind other EU countries.