Social Summit: Act for real social rights now!
Ahead of tomorrow’s Social Summit in Gothenburg, GUE/NGL president Gabi Zimmer calls on the European Commission to develop a truly effective social action programme based on changes to the treaties and secondary law, and financed by a new EU budget.
“The EU needs needs real social rights, not the usual symbolic, non-legally binding proclamations that result from these events. All member states should now commit to a real social EU!” remarks Zimmer.
“Social divisions in the EU continue, with record numbers in poverty and unemployment. EU member states fail to even accomplish the unambitious social goals proclaimed in the 2020 Strategy, and the majority of the member state governments and the Commission continue with their austerity dogma, redistributing money and life chances from the poor and the middle-classes to the wealthy.
“We need binding social obligations for the EU and its member states immediately.”
Zimmer calls on the Commission to produce a new social action programme establishing new high social standards in EU primary and secondary law:
- Treaty changes: The Commission must now make a proposal for a social progress protocol to be introduced into the treaties, effectively making fundamental social rights superior to the freedoms of the internal market. These changes have long been called for by the trade unions and the European Parliament.
- Secondary law: The Commission must present proposals for a set of directives for high quality working conditions and high-level social protection in the age of digitalisation. This should include poverty-proof minimum income schemes, a framework for minimum wages, high-level public pensions, and unemployment benefits that sustain people’s living standards.
- Financing: A new EU budget should be created to finance additional public investments, amounting to at least two per cent of the EU’s GDP. We must overcome the austerity crisis and return to social and ecological growth in all member states, including Eastern and Southern Europe.
“We must take emergency measures now to protect the record number of homeless people in the EU - including refuges and migrants - from freezing to death in the upcoming winter. Evictions and power cuts must be stopped!” Zimmer concludes.
At the Summit in Gothenburg, the GUE/NGL group will be represented by the Greek/Bulgarian MEP, Kostadinka Kuneva, who is a Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and a Substitute Member on the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. Kuneva was severely injured by an attack with sulphuric acid in 2008 in response to her activities as a trade unionist in the Cleaners and Housekeepers Union in Greece. Her story symbolises the need for European social solidarity and joint social struggles for all people in the EU.