By the EESC's Workers' Group

The Workers' Group met this month in Vienna to discuss the Austrian presidency, along with the threats faced by workers and citizens in Europe and the trade unions' strategies to address them.

Racism, xenophobia, nationalism and right-wing populism are growing, fuelled by years of neoliberal policies that spread popular discontent as inequality and poverty rose. The lack of national solidarity has been reflected at European level, where Member States have seized every opportunity to water down the social agenda for Europe. The Social Pillar, which promised to address the situation, has so far been ineffective and lacks enough resources and mechanisms. At the same time, some national governments are openly challenging the basis of democracy and the rule of law and attacking civil society and trade unions.

At this critical time when workers' rights and living conditions are at stake, the Workers' Group gathered at the seat of the EU presidency to discuss what Trade Unions can and should do to turn this situation around before it is too late. Participants included, among others, Wolfgang Katzian, president of the Austrian Trade Union Federation ÖGB, Raimund Löw, renowned journalist and historian, and Hannes Swoboda, former head of the S&D Group in the European Parliament. (ppr)