Igc 2007 / European Council : Partial Success for a Social Europe'

Article excerpt

Despite what gloommongers or those who have only superficially read the conclusions of the EU summit of 21-22 June may say, the mandate given to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) is a success for social Europe. It is a modest success but a success nonetheless. It also shows that, as those advocating a No' to the EU's Constitutional Treaty during the French and Dutch referendums argued, it is possible to add some more social provisions without unravelling everything and, as those advocating a Yes' to the EU Constitution argued, Europe is not by its very nature hostile to social issues.

There are six important provisions, which can, if need be, be combined:

1) the legal basis for public services (Article III-122 of the EU Constitution);

2) a protocol on services of general interest (new, thanks to the insistence of the Dutch delegation - see separate article);

3) social objectives, completed and brought up to the level of overriding objective of the EU in its actions and policies (new, thanks to the German presidency of the EU together with some delegations, especially the French one);

4) the cross-cutting social clause, making it mandatory for social demands to be taken into account (high levels of employment, education and professional training, guarantee of social protection, fight against social exclusion, protection of human health (article III-117 of the EU Constitution));

5) a Charter of Fundamental Rights that retains a certain legal force (in spite of British, Polish and Czech attempts to reduce its strength - see separate article);

6) the possibility for the EU to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights even if the decision still has to be taken by unanimity. …