Social dialogue in the candidate countries

Social dialogue and EMU in the Candidate Countries Workshop

Vienna, 22-24 May 2002

Speech abstract - Lothar Bauer
Principal Administrator, Directorate-General for Research, European Parliament, Luxembourg

The vision of the European Parliament: EMU, social dialogue and enlargement

The European Parliament represents, in the words of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, 'the peoples of the States brought together in the European Community'. Some 375 million European citizens in 15 countries are now involved in the process of European integration through their 626 representatives in the European Parliament.

The fifth EU enlargement since 1972 is, in the view of the European Parliament, a unique task of an unprecedented political and historic dimension, which provides an opportunity to further the integration of the continent by peaceful means and to ensure further economic and social progress. At several occasions the European Parliament stressed the importance of continuing to develop a democratic system of social and economic partnership in the candidate countries, as this is a major precondition for social cohesion and social dialogue. In general, social dialogue must be fostered and strengthened as a key factor in meeting the social and labour market policy challenges facing Europe, but also as a key factor in a more pro-active macro-economic dialogue to develop a positive interaction between economic, social and employment policies.

In the presentation, the role of the European Parliament within the institutional framework of the European Union will be discussed briefly. The radical transformation of Europe's economy and society caused by technological progress, globalisation and EMU confronts the European Union with new challenges to social policy. The importance the European Parliament attaches to social policy, which has, in the past, enabled the EU to manage structural change while minimising negative social consequences, will be underlined.

Before any country joins the EU, the European Parliament has to give its assent according to Article 49 of the Treaty establishing the European Union. However, this power is only exercised at the final stage of the enlargement process. Throughout the negotiations, the European Parliament has an important monitoring role to play. How the European Parliament and its different bodies pursue the enlargement process and the main line of argument will be presented in some detail.

Lothar Bauer studied economics, business administration and political science at the University of Giessen, Germany, and holds a Ph.D. in statistics. He was lecturer and later junior professor at the Department for Statistics and Econometrics at the University of Giessen and worked as independent consultant for quality assurance.

In 1987, he joined the Agriculture Division of Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Commission. Since 1990, he is an official of the European Parliament, starting in the German sector of the Press Division and becoming head of the sector in 1995. In 1998, he changed to the Directorate-General for Research where he is responsible for employment and social affairs issues.

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