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AK EUROPA: Traditional New Year’s Reception 2018 in Brussels

Hundreds of guests followed the invitation of AK President Rudi Kaske and ÖGB President Erich Foglar, who in their addresses emphasised the importance of the Social Pillar and a Social Progress Protocol.

 

This year too, almost three hundred international guests attended the traditional New Year's Reception of AK EUROPA, the Brussels office of the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour the ÖGB Europabüro, the Brussels office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation at the Austrian Permanent Representation to the EU. Among them were numerous MEPs of various factions, such as Paul Rübig and Heinz K. Becker of the ÖVP delegation, as well as the Head of Delegation of the SPÖ Delegation, Evelyn Regner. Also present was the new Permanent Representative of Austria to the EU, Ambassador Nikolaus Marschik, who has been heading the Austrian Permanent Representation to the EU since August 2017. The guest of honour of this year’s reception was the German EU Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger. Apart from that, numerous representatives of EU institutions, trade union and social partner organisations were in attendance, with Luxembourg’s Minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy Nicolas Schmit, who for many years has campaigned for the interests of Employees on the European stage, leading the way.

Greetings from Ambassador Marschik und Commissioner Oettinger

In his capacity as the host, Ambassador Nikolas Marschik opened the New Year’s Reception. He thanked the social partners ÖGB and AK for their excellent cooperation and emphasised how important the expertise of these teams would be, above all in the European employment and social policy sector.

In his address, Günther H. Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, underlined the important role of the social partner in Austria and at European level. “It would be good for the EU to adopt a piece of Austrian social partnership”, said the Commissioner.

AK President Kaske demands the creation of secure and high-quality jobs

AK President Rudi Kaske once again pointed out that one of the key conditions of a positive development of the European Union and its Member States is a strong integration of the social partners at European and national level. He emphasised in particular the problem of creating precarious jobs: Europe’s economy has been the best for ten years, said Kaske, but the boost would not affect millions of people, as many of the new jobs were only part-time or for a limited period, which meant that they were low paid. What was needed were “quick measures to reduce precarious work” and above all, the labour and social protection of atypical employees had to be extended. “Our aim has to be a Europe with more and better jobs”, said the AK President.

ÖGB President Erich Foglar: Social Pillar must take shape

To begin with, ÖGB President Erich Foglar pointed out that according to the latest surveys a clear majority of Austrians (77%) would support EU membership. Austria was at the “eve” of the Austrian Council Presidency and one had to use the opportunity to have the EU Presidency for six months to place once again the focus on the rights of employees. Foglar emphasised the importance of the proclamation of the “European Pillar of Social Rights” last November in Gothenburg as a small but important step in the right direction. This Pillar “must now be filled with life”; that is why the European trade unions demand a concrete action plan of the Commission for its implementation.

Demand for Progress Protocol remains on the agenda

Even though the announcements by Commission President Juncker in March 2018 to present a “Social Justice Package”, including the establishment of a European Labour Authority, are welcomed in general, they have to lead to the desired results and contribute to improving the situation of employees in all of Europe. Exactly for this reason “we need a Social Progress Protocol, which will lead the EU out of the crisis long-term and which restores the balance of the four economic freedoms with the fundamental social rights.”

The 12th New Year’s Reception was a very successful start into the political year 2018 for the Brussels trade union representatives and for our partners from institutions and associations. We thank all our guests and friends for participating and are looking forward to a successful cooperation!

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Further information

Photos of the event

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Photo: Julie de Bellaing
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