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Social Package is a "package of illusions"


06 Sep 2008


Social Europe & Jobs

Responding to the Commission and Council statements on the proposed "Social Package" in the European Parliament this morning, Gabi Zimmer (GUE/NGL Germany) asked the French presidency how 2008 would see a revival of social Europe when the French government had refused to include social issues on the agenda for its term of office. She also contested the Commission's claim that the Social Package was in line with the expectations of Europe's citizens.

"We see an increase in the number of jobs that people cannot make a living from and this is not a trend that Europe should be following" she said. Also, the Social Package does not indicate any progress in collective bargaining or social rights.  "Our group rejects this package because it is vague and is heading in the wrong direction".

Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL, Greece) said the package was full of high-sounding principles but that it was essentially "window dressing" with only a few concrete and practical measures. The directive on health services, included in the package, means bringing Bolkestein in through the back door. He also accused the Commission of  back pedalling by pushing through the working time directive.  "If you want people to start believing in Europe, you should come up with more measures that will help improve their lives."

After 51 years of existence, the European institutions are finally discovering social Europe, said Jacky Henin (GUE/NGL, France)."This is not one of the directions the French Presidency intended concentrating on because it is prisoner to large enterprises and shareholders." The interests of wage-earners, not shareholders and big business, should be at the heart of EU social policy which means that working time cannot be increased to 60 hours a week. "Europe needs a genuine social democracy and we should speed up the development of a genuine social Europe," he concluded.

"The so-called Social Package is a package of illusions", said Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL, Portugal) "ignoring millions of people living in poverty, millions in poorly paid jobs and millions more unemployed while multinationals and big business continue the stranglehold on our society".  She added that real causes of social inequalities are not addressed in the package, which blindly follows the neo liberal policies that have led to a series of directives attacking our public services and health services. "The true agenda is to push through the redundant Lisbon strategy. These are the wrong policies and they undermine the value of individual people."

Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, (GUE/NGL, Cyprus) said the package had obliged the group to be critical, "not only because its timing is suspicious, but also because we strongly disagree with its content. As a Left group, we cannot agree with a Social Package whose legislative regulations deepen the tendency towards neo-liberalism and broaden the gap between rich and poor. We we need for a social Europe is a real change in philosophy and not occasional measures that do not touch upon the substance of people's problems."

According to Giorgios Toussas (GUE/NGL, Greece) the so-called Social Package is a "vain attempt to moderate the indignation felt by citizens regarding EU policy and to distract their attention from the Irish No vote." For years, priority has been given to multinationals and the privatisation of national public services, he said. All we see here are measures to promote precarious work, to weaken health services and to oblige workers to work 60 hours a week, with disastrous consequence for their health and safety. "Every 4.5 seconds a worker is injured, every 3.5 minutes a worker killed. Is this acceptable?" he concluded.


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