Statement on Renewed Eastern Partnership

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the Pan European Regional Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (PERC) welcome the European Commission’s proposals for a renewed Eastern Partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

Both trade union organisations welcome the commitment of the European Commission to continue and deepen the Eastern Partnership with the six EU neighborhood countries.

Trade unions call on the European Commission to boost its engagement for better social policy and a stronger role for social partners (trade unions and employers) in those countries’ moves towards the ‘resilient, sustainable and integrated economies’ and ‘resilient, fair and inclusive societies’ which the European Commission rightly calls for.

The policy objectives for the Partnership beyond 2020 published by the European Commission refers to decent work and human rights, but fails to explicitly mention workers’ rights, which are far from being respected in the countries. Similarly, it talks about involving civil society organisations, but does not mention importance of social dialogue and the vital role of employers and unions in creating strong and democratic economies.

The unions agree with the Commission that bilateral agreements between the EU and Partnership countries offer growth opportunities, but argue that such agreements should include public companies and not only the private sector.

Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the ETUC and PERC, said “We call on the European Union to do all it can to support our eastern neighbours to create prosperous, socially fair and environmentally and economically sustainable societies. This is in our and their interests. It cannot be achieved without strong social policy and the full involvement of trade unions and employers.”

Liina Carr, Confederal Secretary of the ETUC said “Workers in the partner countries want jobs, fair pay and decent working conditions. The European Union has to encourage and support the governments to achieve that and to enable unions and employers to play a full role.”