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The case law of the European Court of Justice has changed market freedoms into companies’ deregulation levers, which led to increased pressure on public services, social rights and wages. At a webinar organised by AK EUROPA and trade union confederations from Austria, Germany and Sweden as well as the European Trade Union Confederation, alternatives to the neoliberal model of the single market were discussed.

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On 11 November 2021,  the Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, presented the Autumn 2021 Economic Forecast. Following the Covid-19 induced recession, the European economies are currently on a path towards economic recovery. Despite the projections being positive, the EU’s economic development is standing on shaky ground due to the uncertain development of the Coronavirus pandemic, global supply shortages and rising energy prices.

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Strengthening the social pillar of the European Union must not remain a pipe dream for very much longer. It is necessary to implement more social rights and EU regulations and to understand that social policy encompasses all political sectors.

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On 19 October 2021, the EU Commission relaunched the economic governance review which had been suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak. From the Austrian Chamber of Labour’s point of view, a reform is urgently required to enable the sustainable development of wealth and wellbeing in all Member States.

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EU Commission presented its 2022 work programme on 19 October 2021. The goal is to strengthen Europe after the COVID-19 pandemic, to stem the digital and green transformation and to create a more stable and just society. Even though many initiatives are positive, more ambition and legally binding measures especially in the social sector would have been desirable and urgently needed.

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On 15 September 2021, Commission President von der Leyen delivered her highly anticipated second State of the Union Address, giving an overview of the EU Commission’s priorities over the next twelve months. Even though many announcements by the Commission President are considered to be positive, von der Leyen failed to provide clear messages and suggestions for improvement, in particular with respect of employment and social issues.

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During recent years, news about terrible accidents in textile factories in the Global South have soared. Following a period of inactivity by the EU, the EU Commission will present a legislative proposal on human rights and environmental due diligence in the supply chain in October 2021. Together with 14 other human rights and labour organisations, AK EUROPA presented its demands in an open letter.

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Evoking collective memory of the fire that caused over 250 preventable deaths nine years ago, 15 human and labour rights organisations are jointly urging EU policymakers to address the systemic issues related to the role of social auditing in that disaster as well as in many others. Co-signatories of the open letter released today point out that -- despite serious and evident risks -- a social auditing firm had certified the Ali Enterprises factory in Pakistan as safe mere weeks before the deadly fire. 

 

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A study, commissioned by AK EUROPA and the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), deals with the involvement of social actors in the RRF. At an online event on 7 September 2021, the authors of the study presented their findings for the first time. The study concludes that, even though social actors are involved in the RRF process, their participation is running the risk of not having a substantial impact.

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Under the motto “Together. Resilient. Europe.“, Slovenia took over its six-month Council Presidency on 1st July 2021. However, compared to previous Presidencies, it was a rather bumpy start.