PERC meeting on the EU for the Danube region – OGB Headquarters, Vienna, 5 July 2011.

Following the decision of the PERC Executive Committee from March 2011 PERC and OGB joined efforts to organise a meeting on the EU Danube Strategy. The main purpose of the meeting was to fill the gaps in the trade unions information and understanding of the EU strategy and try to identify the challenges and opportunities for their future involvement. To these ends the meeting brought together trade union organisations from the countries coordinating specific policy areas of the Strategy (Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Serbia) with EU or national level officials engaged in the operation.

As the Danube strategy is still in its emerging stage as policy design and implantation and not very much information is available the presentation of Mr D. Fassbender, Deputy head of EU Commission Representation in Vienna and Mr R. Arbter from Austrian Federal Chancellery provided the necessary information and conceptual insights into the policy, the way it is structured and developing, the patterns of operation and how the unions can fit and use them. It was made clear that as it is still work in development and ideas are shaped on the move it is extremely important who will take the initiatives, i.e. shape the content and patterns of implementation in particular areas.

Participants from the countries presented their contacts and experience with the Strategy. Some of them – Austria, Bulgaria have been involved already and could present their country and trade union ideas, interests and priorities in the Strategy. Others are still to enter the process and provide information on the respective developments in their policy areas for coordination. The need for internal, trade union structuring of the interaction between organisations was recognised and addressed. Some possible further steps were recognised and adopted to pursue. These comprise among others:

• On European level: to test the possibility for a more structured arrangement for the social partners to take in the process – a specialised social dimension body or within the emerging structure for civil society participation.

• National confederations to contact the respective policy coordination bodies and the Contact points so as to derive maximum information on the developments in the future and possibilities for immediate involvement through project proposals.

• Serbian trade unions took the initiative to coordinate the trade union involvement and will provide the contacts and names or the colleagues to do this job. PERC will disseminate the information and support the joint ideas.

• A number of interesting suggestion were floated to start the process of developing ideas for trade union activities in the region to be further thought over, discussed and used if favourable conditions appear.

On the basis of the results of this first round of actions and the better understanding of the operation of the Strategy and wider participation of all countries concerned will decide the next steps to take.

Arbter Danube strategy PP