SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up 02-10-2015
Editorial by Conny Reuter, SOLIDAR Secretary General
Standards – a beauty contest?
25 September 2015
When Anthony Gardner, US Ambassador to the EU, said in a recent debate on TTIP that the question of safeguarding standards “is not a beauty contest”, many thought that we Europeans were on the “good side” and had to defend our high standards against downward convergence. Without any doubt trade unions and civil society will continue to urge the ratification and respect of ILO conventions, for social protection, for collective bargaining and for social and public services. There our opinion has not changed and will not change! We expect the EU negotiators to defend at least our social and other standards, including the public procurement directive, but we know that we are not in confrontation with the US. SOLIDAR will soon publish a book with contributions from progressives from both sides of the Atlantic who share the same concerns and similar positions. A genuine contribution to transatlantic dialogue which is badly needed!
And now we have the scandal of not only Volkswagen but also Samsung is recently discovered to be undermining environmental standards by developing and installing special software to cheat emissions tests. Should we laugh or cry? Human imagination has no limit, but this really was a big surprise in one sense, but not in another. How could a global company imagine that this would never be discovered? Maybe the dispute over the choice of a new company head accelerated the disclosure through a leak. In the end the car industry lobbyists we meet – including in Brussels – and who seem to abide by the old saying “never trust a statistic that you have not falsified yourself” have lost all credibility, if ever they had any. For many years consumers and other civil society organisations have been arguing against the self-policing by industry on technical and environmental standards. The recent scandal has put the ball back in their court and is a reminder of the call fo r ambitious standards which are respected and controlled by independent public bodies and not by industry itself. This is common sense and a common concern shared by activists and their organisations. In the end Volkswagen may have to pay many bills, but the greatest cost of all will be paid by the workers and employees who might lose their jobs in order to save the value of the shareholders’ assets.
Together for Social Europe
Commissioner Thyssen meets Social NGOs for a civil dialogue on the social agenda
1 October 2015
The day after another College of Commissioners meeting Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility invited social NGOs to discuss on “Forging common action to achieve the Social Triple A for the EU”.
For Commissioner Thyssen civil dialogue is a mutual engagement at a time when there is a real momentum for Social Europe at EU-level and in Member States. Economic governance needs a social pillar. Although the Commission has taken some initiatives, inequality is rising as well as the divergences between and within Member States. For Commissioner Thyssen Europe2020 and the development of a social pillar will be the main vehicles of the social agenda of the EU, but this will only be credible when it can really deliver.
Civil society and NGOs joining forces once more on the flaws and fallacies of TTIP
2 October 2015
On 10 October, NGOs and trade unions together with civil society will mobilise in Berlin for a big demonstration against TTIP, the trade and investment partnership agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and the US.
One of the main concerns around this agreement is the foreseen investor-state dispute settlement mechanism for private investors. This so-called ISDS would allow companies based in the US to sue EU governments for loss of profit if they feel encumbered by national legislation (e.g. stricter environmental or health legislation). The same goes in the other direction for EU companies being able to sue the US administration.
Building Learning Societies
Negotiate: overcoming early job insecurities – the state of play and next steps
29 September 2015
On 21-22 September SOLIDAR met with its project partners in Athens for the first progress meeting of the Negotiate project. The meeting organised by Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences was an opportunity to look at the current state of play and plan the next research steps to be taken. In the course of the next three years the researchers will work to provide new, gender-sensitive, comparative knowledge about the short- and long-term consequences of early job insecurity, taking into account how the active agency of young people impacts such consequences. The main objective is to use the results to enable policy makers at national and European level to design policy responses to the adverse effects of early job insecurities and youth unemployment.
At national level – in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom – national stakeholders fora and youth panels are being established with the purpose of gaining an insight from practitioners on the challenges, gathering evidence, and discussing the policy recommendations. Moreover to enable debates, a series of public events will be organised to discuss early-job insecurities in Europe with civil society organisations and the general public.
Organising International Solidarity
Save the Date – Second EU-Arab Civil Society Dialogue
1 October 2015
Rebuilding relations with Europe’s Southern Neighbourhood Countries
On 4 March 2015, the European Commission issued a joint communication on the revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and launched a public consultation that ended on 30 June. The final communication that will re-launch the new European Neighbourhood Policy is expected by the end of November. CONCORD’s EPAN Working Group, SOLIDAR and other NGOs, together with members and partners from the region, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), and the Euromed Non-Governmental Platform have provided input into the consultation.
In the wake of the final communication on the ENP revision, CONCORD, together with ANND and the Euromed Non-Governmental Platform with the support of SOLIDAR, are organising the Second EU-ARAB Civil Society Dialogue “Rebuilding Relations with European Southern Neighbourhood Countries”, in order to further strengthen a multi-stakeholder dialogue between Civil Society, trade unions, academia and EU institutions. The event will take place on 17 November in Brussels.