Welcome message from the General Secretary
During the period since our last Congress the political, economical and social context has changed enormously. We left the last Congress with the Constitutional Treaty at a standstill.
European leaders managed to agree on the Lisbon Treaty marking the end of a difficult period for the EU, particularly from the institutional point of view. The legally binding character granted to the Charter on Fundamental Rights represents a major step forward. However, certain decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [Laval case (Vaxholm), Viking case, Rüffert case and Luxembourg case] have reinforced the superiority of economic freedoms over fundamental social rights.
European workers today face the biggest challenge particularly in social terms and a great deal of work still lies ahead. What were the first signs of a financial crisis have become a real economic and financial tsunami.
Thanks to the support of all those trade unionists from right across Europe, we campaigned hard with demonstrations and action days to press for a strong and clear response from the European Union to have effective regulation on financial capitalism and to prevent speculation.
Thanks to the support of all those trade unionists from right across Europe, we campaigned hard with demonstrations and action days to press for a strong and clear response from the European Union to have effective regulation on financial capitalism and prevent speculation.
Other massive challenges await us and in a context where capitalism is at its best we must be vigilant and active.
The ETUC has pressed and still pressing the European authorities to restore the balance between economic markets freedoms and fundamental rights and is insisting that the ETUC’s proposal for a Social Progress Protocol in the EU Treaties be included.
Despite facing a bleak economical and social context, the European trade unions can pride themselves on two major successes for Social Europe.
Firstly, the new directive on temporary agency workers, which guarantees from day one, the principle of equal treatment for agency workers. All these measures are the result of years of hard campaigning by the ETUC and its affiliates.
Secondly, the Council decision to strengthen European Works Councils, which gives a better recognition of trade unions.
The European trade union movement will have the opportunity to take over the debate and plan future battles at this Congress in Athens for a fair and more equal Europe. It is important to continue the pressure, the workers fight continues.
ETUC General Secretary