De Jong: Kroes has a chance to show she has a heart

11 January 2012

De Jong: Kroes has a chance to show she has a heart

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, in a letter to Dutch European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, has issued a personal appeal for her to protect social rights at the European level. Leaked draft documents from the Commission reveal that next week the Brussels executive will present a number of long-awaited proposals regarding the relationship between social rights and the internal market. ‘Last year a report from former Commissioner Mario Monti warned the Commission emphatically that unless social rights were improved support for the internal market would decline still further,’ De Jong recalls. ‘The Commission has clearly paid no attention to this warning.’

Dennis de JongThe European Commission’s proposals would have a major influence on the right to strike and on the working of national agreements negotiated between employers and unions such as the Netherlands’ Collective Labour Agreements (CAOs). The Commission’s proposals have been anticipated with some anxiety, especially after far-reaching rulings from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Viking and Laval cases, which seriously restricted the right to strike under member states’ national laws. “That the Commission’s proposals clearly opt not to give priority over the single market to social rights such as the rights of trade unions,” De Jong says, “is extremely disappointing. But I know that Neelie Kroes has a social heart, which is why I have called on her as Vice-President of the Commission to use her power to block these proposals.”

In his letter De Jong draws Kroes’s attention not only to Mario Monti’s advice and the demands from European trade unions, but also to the European Parliament’s resolutions calling for the regulation of improved protection for social rights. “Last year a large majority of the EP enthusiastically supported Maltese social democrat Louis Grech’s call for a more social Europe,” De Jong recalls. “These Commission proposals effectively cut the European Parliament out of the loop.”

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