by the EESC's Workers' Group

We need the voice of workers to be heard loud and clear not only in the European Parliament, but also in the Commission said Oliver Röpke, President of the Workers' Group. For this reason, on 22 May 2019 the EESC Workers' Group organised a side event at the ETUC Congress to discuss how we can ensure that the rights of workers are at the centre of the political agenda in the new European Parliament over the next five years.

Participants discussed the challenges that trade unions are facing and how they will deal with the expected success of right wing populist parties. We must regain the trust of workers, because nationalists and extremists will always try to profit from people's despair to gain support, added Gabriele Bischoff.

The panel, comprised of ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini, Austrian MEP Evelyn Regner, and two European Parliament candidates, Gaby Bischoff and Nicolas Schmit, agreed that the trust of voters needs to be regained and that politicians should provide an alternative to the rhetoric of anti-European populists. Voters did not turn racist overnight; people are disenchanted and in despair and nationalists offer easy answers, thriving on people's harsh living conditions, said Luca Visentini.

The EU needs to be a social project that improves the working and living conditions of all citizens and tackles inequalities. This requires fair and progressive taxation, the implementation of the Social Pillar, common minimum social standards and the proper enforcement of labour law. (mg)