Put Social Europe in the Digital Single Market Strategy trade unions tell Commissioner


(19 February 2016) We know workers will lose their jobs because of digitalisation. We have to prepare for it. EU Commission Vice-President Ansip underlined how important anticipation and management of change are. The digitizing of our services and manufacturing has profound impacts on the economies. The Commission expects a positive job effects. Skill gaps and lack of the appropriate qualifications will be dealt with in a forthcoming Skills Agenda of the Commission.

The arguments came in response to trade union concerns. We pointed at the impact on jobs, health and safety and pay and conditions. Social security, the monopolizing of digital platforms and the tax avoidance of large internet companies like Google and others were further concerns. The Commission is not responding as regards information and consultation rights, nor does it addresses issues of exploitation like with crowd-workers. As regards public services, we underlined that digitalisation should not be regarded as the tool to cut costs. The Commission lens of competitiveness gives a narrow view. Ensuring that public services remain inclusive and democratic and that people can participate should be the key concepts. Public services need the trust of people. We need reliability and continuity, solidarity and universal access.

Digitalisation has put our concepts of worker, employer and workplace into question. Data protection and privacy has a high value for the trade unions. We are concerned about questions of ownership of data. Are they a commodity or a natural resource that deserves protection. It is not because technology has made certain things possible, that we also have to agree to make it happen. This is all the more troublesome as the digital economy favours a winner takes all approach. This leads to monopolies and abuse of positions.

The Commissioner unveiled plans of the Commission to come forward with a whole range of proposals in the forthcoming months. These range from dealing with parcels, ehealth, egovernance to the modernization of public services and the interoperability of digital services.

The ETUC delegation include the ETUC Deputy General Secretary, the GS of IndustriAll-Europe, the Regional Secretary for Uni-Europa and the GS of EPSU. The employers were represented by BusinessEurope, UEAPME and CEEP. The Commission vice-president was accompanied by representatives of various Commission services.

EPSU is developing a Position Paper on ‘Smart Public Services for a Digital Age’.

High-level meeting of the social partners on the Digital Single Market Strategy with EU Commission Vice-President Ansip