As the European Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen, prepares to deliver her much-anticipated State of the Union speech (#SOTEU) next 13 September, EFFAT is hoping to hear some much-needed mention of concrete plans on how to secure a fairer society for millions of working people in Europe.
1 Restoring Peace in Ukraine
Europe’s commitment to peace and democracy should remain unwavering. We emphasise the need for concentrated efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine. We are facing a concerning escalation potentially leading to a more dramatic scenario. EFFAT calls on the European Commission to actively engage in diplomatic endeavours and real peace talks to resolve the conflict and to keep providing support to the Ukrainian people in their pursuit of peace and democracy.
2 Tackling the Rising Cost of Living
Faced with rising energy bills and food prices, many Europeans are now concerned about making ends meet. The toll of inflation on working lives has been disheartening. But while payouts to shareholders increased by 14% last year, wages grew by 4% . EFFAT strongly endorses the implementation of urgent measures to address the energy market and food commodities speculations, shielding consumers from rising energy and food costs. We would welcome concrete plans on tax fairness to prevent companies from profiting during this crisis and ensure that workers receive their fair share. We urge the Commission to stay away from austerity and to call member states to act upon ambitious transposition of the minimum wage directive.
3 Ensuring a Just Transition for Working People
Another critical concern for EFFAT is ensuring a just transition that delivers for working people. The summer months have brought alarming reports of deaths caused by extreme heat in sectors like agriculture and tourism. It is imperative that the European Commission takes immediate action to protect workers from the harmful effects of climate change. We expect President Von der Leyen’s speech to break the silence and reiterate her support to the EU’s Green deal ambition. We need robust climate mitigation and adaptation measures with social considerations, including social conditionality and the full involvement of trade unions.
4 Adopting the Sustainable Food system Initiative
The EU should stand by the timeline and keep the EU Sustainable Food System (SFS) Initiative for adoption before 2023. As part of the Farm to Fork initiative, the SFS is a clear opportunity to raise labour standards for millions of agro-food workers in Europe and a crucial step towards a more sustainable and resilient food system. Complying to this commitment would be a strong sign that environmental and social sustainability are intertwined and central to any discourse on the future of food and agriculture policy.
5 Ending Precarious Work
EFFAT firmly asserts that there is no such thing as labour shortages when good jobs are available. Precarious employment conditions not only harm workers but also contribute to labour market instability. It would be significant to hear President Von der Leyen emphasize the need for concrete steps to address the root causes of labour shortages and ensure a stable workforce. Migration should be viewed as a structural phenomenon requiring proper management rather than a source of cheap labour. Mobile and migrant workers deserve dignity and respect and equal treatment at work. Europe must take greater steps towards a truly inclusive EU migration policy based on solidarity between Member States accompanied by the development of a safe and legal migration pathways.
EFFAT looks forward to hearing these critical topics addressed in President Von der Leyen’s speech and hopes for concrete actions to follow for the benefit of working people in Europe.