EU summit delights BusinessEurope and disappoints unions
By Sophie Petitjean | Friday 28 October 2011
The social partners welcome the clause, adopted at the European Council on 26 October, stating that bank recapitalisations must not take place at the expense of the real economy. That is the only point of agreement between employers and unions, though. European private sector employers “appreciate the agreements in principle on bank recapitalisation, extending the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and improving the sustainability of Greek borrowing [...] important steps forward to help strengthen the euro area and the EU economy as a whole”. Trade unions, on the other hand, denounce the EU’s bowing to “the diktat of financial markets”. “The intention to create leverage for the EFSF by means of a special purpose vehicle is equivalent to putting together toxic instruments that governments are supposed to combat,” commented Bernadette Ségol, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). She regrets the absence of a decision on eurobonds. “Regular eurozone summits will only make sense if they change course and abandon the route of austerity and hardship for the many,” she concludes. BusinessEurope wrote to the European Council and Commission presidents, on 28 October, to express the organisation’s support for the “measures to strengthen economic governance and improve the surveillance and implementation of fiscal and structural reforms in the eurozone”.
LOCAL ACTORS CONCERNED
In a statement, published on 27 October, the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and the Employers’ Platform of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) denounce the devastating effects of the economic crisis on local and regional public services. “An unprecedented restructuring is taking place in some EU countries due to the cuts, leading to staff reductions and pay cuts while at the same time national social dialogue is undermined in the countries concerned,” commented Anders Hammarback, chairman of the EPSU Standing Committee. On the eve of the EU summit, they sent a message to the Commission and the 27 member states that stressed the following points: 1. austerity policy in the form of drastic budget cuts in public services and investments has simply contributed to negative growth and stifled employment; 2. these cuts have consequences on the provision of public services to European citizens, at the risk of excluding the most vulnerable, young people, the elderly, low-skilled workers and the jobless; and 3. social dialogue needs to be strengthened, facilitated and supported, in particular through new forms of cooperation.