ETUC launches proposals for new social Action Programme

In December 1997, the European Trade Union Confederation launched its proposals for a new social policy Action Programme, calling for the integration of a social dimension into the EU's wider objectives.

In a resolution adopted by its executive committee on 5 December 1997, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) expresses its belief that a well-defined, strategic social policy Action Programme is essential in underpinning the present phase of European integration and enlargement. It is argued that without a social dimension, the political and economic objectives of the EU, such as a high level of employment and social protection, equality between men and women and the combating of social exclusion and discrimination cannot be fully realised.

ETUC's proposals were developed against the background of the provisions of the new Amsterdam Treaty, in particular the new Employment Title and the new Social Policy Chapter (EU9707135F).

ETUC recommends that the European Commission's 1998 social policy Action Programme:

  • be based on a "holistic" approach entailing a policy mix of actions at national, sectoral and European level;
  • be targeted at strategic fields for concrete actions;
  • consist of a mix of social partner agreements and legislative as well as non-legislative action; and
  • be based upon a strict action timetable, mirroring priorities.

ETUC insists that "a high-level social policy should be viewed as the productive factor it really is, seen from the point of view of the workers, enterprises and society." It is argued that a real strategy for a social Union is necessary and should be implemented through an upward convergence of social policies and provisions, instead of the present "piecemeal" approach.

ETUC proposes that the social policy Action Programme should be targeted at six strategic policy fields:

  • employment and working time;
  • restructuring;
  • freedom of movement;
  • work organisation and working conditions;
  • enlargement; and
  • European rights.

The proposals launched by ETUC envisage a central and strategic role for social policy that integrates the social dimension into wider EU objectives.

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