General Secretary views - Autumn 2005 and the challenges ahead

Welcome back to all affiliates after your summer break. I hope that you all took the time to recharge your batteries because the EU ‘new season' looks like being one of the most significant for a long time. The two items that are most pertinent are of course the Services directive and the Working Time Directive. On the Services Directive there are two main challenges - persuading the European Parliament that the current text is unacceptable, but also alerting our own members of the fact that the Services Directive remains very much a threat.

On the first point we are, in co-ordination with the ETUC, planning towards the scheduled plenary vote in Strasbourg on 24 October. Although this deadline is looking more and more unrealistic - due to the Internal Market Committee rapporteur, Ms. Gebhardt, having to reschedule the vote. On the second point, ensuring that the national profile of the directive remains high, we must make mobilisation a priority. If the vote in plenary is maintained for 24 October, national affiliates will need to organise activities before and around this date, e.g., press statements, press conferences, “pickets” at UK embassies.

The Working Time Directive developments over the summer were a clear illustration of the tough political climate we face. It is worth reiterating, simply because it is so shocking, what actually transpired. Ministers are framing the WTD debate as a balance between individual choice and productivity. This is a misnomer. The fact is that the Council of Ministers chose to ignore the European Court of Justice (Jaeger case) and ignore a well-structured compromise by the Parliament (Cercas report). Such blatant goalpost shifting makes a mockery of the EU legislative process. Our aim is to push this issue back to the top of the agenda in advance of the next Ministers' meeting on 8 December. In closing, I look forward to giving you regular updates throughout the autumn, and to seeing many of you at the events, debates and demonstrations needed to ensure we make progress on the above two issues. Don't forget that we see this as a platform for EPSU affiliates. If you have any comments or suggestions for stories please contact us at [email protected] (headline your message EPSU newsletter).