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On 16 September 2020, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave her first State of the Union Speech before the European Parliament. Among other, she reflected on the first nine months, which have been marked by the pandemic and gave an outlook into the closer future.

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Following Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, both contracting parties do not have much time left to agree on a future deal. Now the British government has announced its intention to change aspects of the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

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At the beginning of February 2020, the European Commission launched the debate on reforming the Stability and Growth Pact. The Austrian Chamber of Labour took part in the public consultation and underlines: Europe needs a reform of its fiscal rules, which should focus on the sustainable development of wealth and wellbeing in der EU.

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On 21 July 2020, following weeks of tough negotiations, the European Council agreed the largest budget and financial package in the EU’s history. Even if, under pressure of the “Frugal Four“ grants were cut in important sectors, the joint politico-economic instrument is a big step in the right direction.

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On 1 July 2020, Germany assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Expectations are high – after all, the “honest broker” Germany has to swiftly succeed in reaching an agreement on the recovery plan. The social security of Europeans is also to be improved.

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Whether Brussels, Paris, London or Vienna: Europe too has seen many protests against racism and police violence since the violent death caused by police officers of Afro-American George Floyd on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis. In the plenary of the European Parliament, a debate was held on 17 June.

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In principle, the AK welcomes the project of a common European data strategy, but points out that numerous considerations regarding comprehensive data protection, balanced opportunities for consumers and data users as well as opportunities of fair competition for small companies and improved regulation of the large "data collectors" must still be incorporated into the strategy. As the representative of the interests of all employees in Austria, we also pay particular attention to the effects of collecting and processing data on employees.

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Ulrike Ginner

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On 27 May 2020, it finally happened: The Commission presented its eagerly awaited recovery plan. 500 billion Euro shall put the European economy back on its feet and pave the way for forthcoming transformations; further 250 billion shall help individual Member States with favourable loans.