European Union (EU) has gradually increased its influence in the areas that most affect workers. In response, Europe`s trade unions came together to form the ETUC, so as to speak with a single voice on behalf of European workers and have a stronger say in EU decision-making. Since 2008, Europe’s economic and financial crisis and the introduction of austerity policies have reinforced the need for a body to defend workers’ interests at EU level.
United action for Social Europe
The ETUC aims to ensure that the EU is not just a single market for goods and services, but is also a Social Europe, where improving the wellbeing of workers and their families is an equally important priority. The ETUC believes that this social dimension, incorporating the principles of democracy, social justice and human rights, should be an example to inspire other countries. The European social model – until the onset of the crisis – helped Europe to become a prosperous, competitive region with high living standards.
Quality jobs, workers’ rights and a fair society
The ETUC defends fundamental social values such as solidarity, equality, democracy, social justice and cohesion.
It fights for:
- high quality jobs for all
- a high level of social protection
- gender equality and fair pay
- equal opportunities
- social inclusion and fundamental rights
- good health and safety at work
- freedom of movement for European workers, and an end to abuse and exploitation
- high quality public services that are accessible to all
- a European framework to raise the standard of national social legislation
- action to combat climate change while protecting workers’ jobs
- promotion of these European social values in other parts of the world
The last ETUC Congress in Paris in 2015 adopted a Manifesto that lays out demands in the areas of economic governance and employment policy, trade union rights and social dialogue, ambitious social standards and fair globalisation. The Manifesto rejects austerity policies, imposed without democratic accountability, which have forced workers to pay for a crisis they did not cause. The Paris Manifesto calls on European decision-makers to change their approach without delay and to invest in full employment and quality jobs, so as to create “a strong economy that serves the people” and reverse the growth in poverty and social exclusion.
The Manifesto also calls for social dialogue and collective bargaining to be strengthened across Europe, and urges the EU to aim for social progress as its top priority.