The ETUC has made a statement supporting “Remain” in the European Union of monopolies. Even so the second half admits the Cameron “deal” damages the concept of a “Social Europe”.
The UK deal in the EU Council
PM David Cameron has secured a deal that exempts the UK from important duties of EU membership, but his agenda is not ours, and is not supported by our British affiliate, the TUC. It reflects in-fighting at the heart of the Prime Minister’s Conservative Party rather than protecting the interests of British workers. We believe the concessions to the British Government’s arm-twisting tactics are in breach of the EU treaties and damage Social Europe. The British deal is at risk of infringing basic principles like freedom of movement, equal treatment at work and non-discrimination.
The danger is that any Member State will feel it has the right to reject commonly agreed rules, using Britain as the precedent, and creating a ‘self-service’ EU. Whatever happens with the referendum in June, the UK’s concessions leave a weakened union. Already, some EU countries are considering cutting child benefit payments to migrant workers. And there is talk of further referendums on EU policy taking place in others. After the referendum, the ETUC will act to oppose exceptions and restrictions being applied in other Member States, and press for tighter conditions for granting such exceptions to the UK as well.
European trade unions will fight to end limits on free movement, and will fight even harder now to ensure that the Commission delivers on its promise of a strong pillar of social rights for Europe and for a fair revision of the Posting of Workers Directive. Instead of scape-goating migrant workers, we need tough action against those employers who exploit them, and the widespread practice of collective bargaining so as to establish a fair rate for the job for all workers.
Europe must be reformed in workers’ interests. Workers in the UK and in the rest of the EU need a just society, investment for quality jobs, greater workplace democracy, the right to free movement and equal treatment, and no discrimination on social and trade union rights and on civil liberties.
The agreement imposes new rules to foster competitiveness by cutting regulation. The ETUC opposes the introduction of a “burden reduction implementation mechanism”. In the UK, this is translated into the new principle of “one-in, three-out” for new legislation. Such a quantitative approach will not guarantee high quality legislation.
The ETUC further regrets the lack of clarity regarding the consequences for economic governance and deeper integration in the euro area, especially regarding the specific provisions of the Single rulebook.
The ETUC is ready to develop more in depth analysis of the consequences of the deal after the result, and effects of the referendum are known.