ETUC assesses the Social results of the Dutch Presidency "Unilateral priorities - bad results"
The ETUC regards the Presidency as a period over which to measure progress made with regard to EU social policy and legislation. While ETUC recognizes that an EU Presidency cannot make decisions on its own and needs the cooperation of the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council if it is to take effective action, any Presidency has a special role to play in the way it leads debates, establishes priorities, prepares the practical work done and profiles specific issues.
The ETUC is not giving an overall political assessment of the Dutch Presidency’s performance. The verdict is based primarily on the ten social tests that ETUC presented in its Memorandum to the Dutch Presidency 19 July 2004.
Based on those ten social tests, the ETUC concludes that the Dutch Presidency had one main priority, to strengthen the competitiveness at all price and did not achieve any of its own social objectives or fulfil ETUC’s ambitions to strengthen Social Europe.
The Dutch Presidency is not solely to blame for this, but has a large part of the responsibility for this worrying situation. In several instances the European Commission was clearly responsible for the lack of progress (framework for services of general interest, revision of working time directive, etc.). In other cases, various governments in the Council delayed the adoption of a compromise (temporary agency workers) or insisted on compromises that are inadequate for the social dimension of the European Union. But the poor negotiating power, low pressure for social issues and the low-profile political effort by the Dutch Presidency led to no progress at all on social policy or social dimension of the internal market.
TEN SOCIAL TESTS FOR THE DUTCH PRESIDENCY
1. Lisbon Strategy - Mid-Term Review: Ensure steps to meet the Lisbon Objectives and launch a review of the Stability Pact. Verdict: Negative
2. Social Agenda 2006-2013: Lay a solid base of the new European social policy agenda for post-2005 and ensure the right balance between legislative and contractual instruments Verdict: Mixed Results
3. Gender Equality: Work on the proposed Directive to ensure its unanimous adoption by the Council Verdict Mixed results
4. Temporary agency work: Adopt the directive without further delay and make sure that the principle of equal treatment is respected. Verdict: Negative
5. Services and Services of General Interest: Make the proposal for a Services Directive acceptable and ensure a strong social dimension for the internal market. Start the procedure for a framework directive on Services of General Interest and a moratorium. Ensure a fair standard of cooperation for public-private partnerships (PPPs). Verdict: Negative
6. Working Time Directive: Put an end to individual opt-outs and safeguard the basic principles of the Directive, i.e. the right to limit working hours, the protection of health and safety, offering both companies and workers flexibility and security. Verdict: Negative
7. EWC revision: Accelerate the revision process and embark on the next phase of consultation. Verdict: Negative
8. Company law on mergers and transfers of seat: no falling back behind the historical compromise reached for the European Company Statute on Workers’ Participation and Involvement. Verdict: Mixed result
9. Health and Safety at Work: Implement the Community strategy 2002-2006, taking account of the importance of legislative instruments; finalise work on Physical Agents - Optical Radiation, the revision of the Machinery Directive and the Carcinogens Directive, including substances which are toxic to reproduction, and support the improvement of EU policy on chemicals. Also take initiatives for the adoption of REACH taking account of its consistency with health and safety directives and define a ’duty to care’ for all the respective chemicals. Verdict: Negative
10. Migration and integration: Develop a common EU migration and asylum policy, based on a human rights approach, linking the issues of migration and integration into other EU policies (mainstreaming), notably employment, equal treatment and co-development policies. Verdict: Negative
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