Interview with Joel Decaillon, Etuc Deputy General Secretary : 2020 Plan Proposes a Reduction in Social Protection
The week of 22 to 26 March is a very busy one for the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC): on 23 March, it met European Council President Herman Van Rompuy; on 24 March, it is to discuss working time with Laszlo Andor, commissioner for employment and social affairs; and on 24-25 March, it is participating in the Tripartite Social Summit, where the social partners will sign an agreement on inclusive labour markets. Europolitics Social met Joel Decaillon, the confederation's deputy general secretary, who finds the Europe 2020' plan far too limited in ambition and not in line with workers' needs.
The Lisbon strategy was often described as a "business strategy," while Europe 2020' is seen as more social. Do you agree with this analysis?
No, there is new wording but no guarantees or clearly stated objectives. Europe 2020' presents very low ambitions. If you look back at the white paper by Jacques Delors, you see that there was a programme, there was ambition. Here, there is no aspiration for an EU investment programme, not even a major European project. [ ] The structural reform at social level proposed by Europe 2020' is a reduction of social protection and pension systems. Nor do we see why this crisis should further confirm deregulation, job insecurity and the privatisation of public services. So we do not share the Commission's views on these aspects. [ ]
On the one hand, we think the urgency of exiting the crisis needs to be taken further into account. For the trade unions, 2010 is more important, because if we don't deal with the crisis now we will have a very hard time contemplating 2020. On the other, Europe 2020' is simply a document for open policy coordination. That's not enough, however. We need European policy, particularly on research and innovation. We also need lifelong learning. Education is one of the paradoxes of the proposal: Europe 2020' talks about education but statistics from a Dublin-based foundation show that, in times of crisis, the first budgets cut by companies are training budgets, which are considered non-strategic. And private investment in training has remained lower in Europe than in the United States and Japan.
But on all these aspects, the Commission proposes concrete commitments, with figures. Don't you find them credible?
They are not target figures, simply indicators. The Commission proposes, for instance, an indicator on education. …