The elections to the European Parliament will take place from 6 to 9 June. These elections will be decisive for the future of the European Union. With a new European Parliament, there will also be a new European Commission. At the start of the EU election campaign, many institutions are presenting their demands for future EU policy, including the EESC's Workers' Group.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) brings together three groups from organised civil society to draw up joint opinions on important EU policy issues. The group of employers, employees and civil society organisations (farmers, consumers, etc.) are each made up of representatives from all EU Member States. Group 2, i.e. that of employees, has now presented its priorities for the upcoming EU elections in June. These include important points of reference for a social EU policy in the interests of European workers.
Overall, the great importance of the EU elections is highlighted. In the current legislative period, which began in 2019, many steps in the right direction were taken. These include, for example, the Green Deal, which for the first time prioritised the necessary ecological transformation at EU level. However, the needs of employees are often not given the importance they deserve.
How can the EU be more social?
"Our goal for the coming years is to drive social progress forward. We want to shape a future that is not only social and sustainable, but also upholds the principles of the rule of law, human rights, gender equality, intergenerational solidarity and diversity." These words precede the individual policy areas, which relate to social, economic and environmental challenges, the digital transition, migration, the rule of law and fundamental rights, global agenda based on solidarity, equality, and inclusion, better policy-making and strategic foresight.
In the social sphere, one of the core demands is to fully implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. This requires a strong action plan to reduce inequalities and combat growing income disparities, particularly between the genders. Clear rules must be laid down to ensure fair competition and prevent social dumping. The implementation of the action plan at national level should be part of the European Semester. In addition, work must be democratised, which could be achieved, among other things, through the long-requested reform of the European Works Council Directive. Above all, however, strengthening social dialogue and collective bargaining must be at the top of the agenda.
In the area of economic policy, people's well-being must be the ultimate goal. To achieve this, it is essential to reorganise the EU's economic governance, the European Semester, the multiannual financial framework and the EU's own resources in such a way that social justice goes hand in hand with economic competitiveness.
The ecological transition must be socially just
Another key requirement is to ensure a fair transformation. Under no circumstances should workers fall by the wayside. The Green Deal must be understood as a social project. Green technologies play an important role in tackling the climate crisis. Above all, this requires workers who are trained for these new tasks. The aim is to create high-quality jobs that support the transformation. An EU directive for a just transition is called for, as are trade agreements that commit to respecting human rights and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Other points include the implementation of an ambitious directive on platform work and a regulation on artificial intelligence that puts the needs of workers at the centre. The EU must also take responsibility when it comes to migration and the integration of migrants must be seen as a benefit for society as a whole. In the area of asylum, the arbitrary handling of asylum criteria must be stopped. It has been announced that the implementation of the asylum and migration agreement will be monitored with this in mind.
Now or never
These elections will be decisive for the coming decades in Europe. In current polls, parties that are clearly to the right of the centre are at a record high. This could block many of the progressive projects that have been launched in recent years. In the super election year 2024, which begins in Austria with the AK elections, the concerns of employees must play a central role. Demands such as those of EESC Group 2 should therefore be given high priority.
Worker's Group EESC: Our Priorities for social progress
A&W Blog: Political balance of power in the light of the 2024 EU elections (only in German)
EU Parliament: European elections 2024
AK Vienna: AK Election