After 4 days of deliberation –and many months of fruitless meetings- the European Council has finally reached an agreement for the MFF and the EU Recovery Plan. Having €750bn through a common debt instrument is a historic achievement, as it offers a real chance for recovery to countries without adding more national debt. Moreover, a long-standing demand of the EESC, for the EU to finance itself through its own resources, is finally on the way to become a reality. Negotiations were complicated and the deal was better than it could have been; for this, the Workers' Group thanks the Commission and Council presidents, and the work of many member states, in making this agreement a possibility.
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On July 1st, Germany assumes the presidency of the EU Council, facing the worst health, social, and economic crisis the EU has seen in its existence. The EU and its member states, crippled by years of austerity and nationalism, stand ill-prepared to face it. Only firm commitment to solidarity and social and environmental sustainability, taking onboard the social partners, can prevent the worst parts of the crisis, and ensure a recovery towards a fairer, more sustainable Europe.
The alarming outbreaks of corona infections in the German meat industry discredit this sector and put the European food industry in a bad light. The meat industry, especially in Germany, benefits from low-cost workforce from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe by employing non-transparent labour practices. The term "modern slavery" is often used in this context. Due to the shocking spread of the corona virus among employees in various slaughterhouses in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony, their miserable working conditions have once again been brought to the fore.
Clapping was good, but now we need a recovery plan that strengthens our public services and its workforce
Public sector workers are usually unsung and invisible heroes. When everything goes well, we generally take them and the work they do for granted despite its impact on almost every aspect of our lives. However, when things go wrong, we notice: they are often in the firing line for our complaints – many are even the victims of violence and harassment just for trying to do their jobs.
"The crisis has made it very clear that what we need is the reconstruction of our society, not just a recovery and an exit plan after COVID-19", pointed out Stefano Palmieri, President of the EESC's section for economic issues. Stefano Palmieri, representing the Workers' Group, was in charge of drafting this resolution along with two other rapporteurs representing the Employers' Group and the Diversity Group respectively.
The world is experiencing its biggest crisis in peacetime in the last 90 years. To overcome the current crisis, and to be prepared for any other that might come, Europe must focus its effort to rebuild its social, political and economic structure on four criteria: Solidarity, sustainability, safeguarding employment and income and participation. The stronger, the more inclusive, the more social and the more sustainable the recovery measures are and the more they are tailored to the situation of the Member States and their populations, the more credible Europe will be and the more capable to rise to the unprecedented challenges we face in this crisis. Europe has now the possibility and the opportunity to build another world.
On Monday 11th of May, the Workers' Group is hosting a webinar on the different strategies to exit the current Covid crisis.
We are experiencing the biggest crisis in peacetime in the last 90 years; if the European Central Bank's estimates of the size of the 15% of GDP depression turn out to be correct, this is three times the magnitude of the last crisis in 2008. The European Union has never faced such an economic and social crisis of this scale. This crisis is of a different nature than previous ones, and it requires a different mix and timing of policy responses. That is why we believe that business as usual can no longer be a political option to address the effects of the crisis. Europe has the possibility and the opportunity to build another world.
This May 1st, will happen "in confinement mode" all over the world. Oliver Röpke, EESC Workers' Group President reaffirms that "Together, in solidarity, we will come out of the Covid-19 crisis".
Every IWMD is poignant as we take time to commemorate workers - some who were colleagues and the many 1000s that we never knew - who have died at work. This year, as the world struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we mourn and pay special tribute to the 100s of healthcare and all other workers across the world who have died from exposure to coronavirus at work. We cannot let their deaths be in vain.