Credibility of Juncker would benefit from being big on really big things

Date: 
Thursday, September 21, 2017

European Commission President Juncker gave his State of the European Union speech on 13 September. Reactions have been mixed to say the least. It misses credibility. Millions of workers are denied a solution to strengthen their information and consultation rights as nothing was said  about bringing the agreement EPSU reached with the central government employers in December 2015 to the Council.  Not a word about taking steps to implement the Right to water and sanitation in the European Union as demanded by the first ever successful European citizens’ initiative (ECI) in 2014. Who believes these people when they talk about being the Commission of Social Dialogue if they do not bring forward the fruits of the European social dialogue as the Treaty foresees? Who believes them when they talk about democratizing the European Union and reforming of the ECI if they fail to act upon the demands of people? The political and economic optimism is completely misplaced as there is an obvious  disconnect between the words spoken and the reality of public service workers. Millions are still faced with pay freezes after nearly a decade of austerity coordinated at EU level. Unions in France, Spain, UK are mobilizing for better wages and conditions. In Germany, Ver.di is organizing actions for more staff in health and social services. Also in Ukraine,  cuts in staff, increases in work pressures, stress and deteriorating quality of services led to workers taking to the streets on 19 September. This is the story of Europe’s public service workers. Juncker’s speech did not address this. It lacks the credibility that is needed for the future of the European Union. Its failure to be big on really big things like respect for social dialogue bolsters politicians like in Georgia. They think they can get away with actions against the union movement. The Commission should lead and not cower away.