European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Putting the "social" back on the European agenda

The latest issue of Transfer, the Research Quarterly of the ETUI’s Research Department takes a critical look at European social and employment policy under the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy and concludes that the current priority of short-term economic and fiscal crisis management is weakening “Social Europe”. The different articles in the new quarterly Transfer highlight four major challenges for the social dimension of European integration.

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The complex reality of social dumping


The term “social dumping” is often used in European public policy discourse to point to “unfair competition” between countries with very different wage and social protection levels. The expression of the cheap “Polish plumber” became one of the war horses of those opposing the EU’s enlargement and the opening of labour markets. But the term is often used in a too simplistic way and remains poorly defined, according to a new ETUI Working Paper written by Magdalena Bernaciak.

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Piece work increases the work injury rate


Almost twice as many piece rate workers suffer from workplace injuries as those on standard contracts, according to research from Lancaster University Management School. The increased productivity gained by employers from piece rate work is lost through increased absence and the cost of compensation, the authors note.

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Protecting workers against risks associated with nuclear technology. New ETUI publication


The European directive on protection of human health against the dangers of ionising radiation is undergoing revision. This heated debate focuses on the "low doses" to which tens of thousands of European workers are exposed in sectors as varied as industry, hospitals, air transport, construction, mining and of course nuclear energy.

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New ILO report presents solutions to escape the austerity trap


The Eurozone needs an urgent shift in policy direction or it will face losing a further 4.5 million jobs in the next years according to a new report from the ILO’s International Institute for Labour Studies. To move out of what it calls Europe’s “austerity trap” it recommends repairing the financial system, promoting investments in young workers and addressing differences in competitiveness between Eurozone countries.

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Van Rompuy report fails to tackle roots of the crisis


Banking union, budgetary union, and increased economic policy integration: such are the three major directions of progress proposed by European Council President Van Rompuy, in consultation with Messrs Barroso (Commission), Draghi (ECB) and Juncker (Eurogroup), on the eve of the meeting – heralded as ‘decisive’ – of the European Council on 28 and 29 June 2012. The report, entitled Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union, represents an effort to contribute to this increased political and economic integration that, according to an increasingly widely shared conviction, has become the key to solution of the euro crisis. The intention is to set in motion a process scheduled to deliver results in December.

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Rio+20: chronicle of an announced failure


As expected, the Earth Summit held in Rio, Brazil, ended last week with a weak text full of good intentions, “promises” and diplomatic fluff but no concrete targets nor any serious action plan to reverse the unsustainable course of the global economy. The concept of a “green economy” (one of the two main themes of the summit) remained controversial with most developing countries seeing it as a hurdle for their future economic growth.

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Minimum wages, austerity and poverty: three ETUI studies

poor people in Greece

The economic crisis and austerity policies have put the issue of minimum wages in Europe back on the political agenda. Although wage policy is not an EU competence, the new economic governance resulting from the debt crisis in several EU member states is increasingly intervening in national wage developments. In this context, minimum wages have become an essential component of the EU’s policy of austerity. Three new publications from the ETUI present a thorough analysis of the state of play of minimum wages in Europe and its implications for social inequality and poverty.

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"The EU is running hard to stand still "

flags EU

The European Union saw a deluge of institutional innovations in economic governance in 2011 but made no progress in exiting the crisis and risks a real crisis of trust in the European project. This was the main message presented during the launch on 11 June of a new study on the state of social Europe in 2011. The annual flagship publication by the European Social Observatory (OSE) and the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) highlighted the “impressive acceleration” in European integration and the introduction of many new tools (revision of the Stability and growth Pact, the Six Pack, the Euro Plus Pact etc.) for the EU’s economic governance as a reaction to the debt crisis. Despite all these changes, the EU failed to stop the crisis and now seems further in trouble than ever before in its history.

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European trade union leaders call for European Social Compact

protest against austerity Spain

EU trade union leaders meeting in Brussels from 5-6 June launched a call for a debate on a European Social Compact. As it is becoming increasingly clear that the austerity programmes in several member states are not solving the crisis and after the presidential win of François Hollande in France, the EU's narrative has been gradually shifting from austerity to growth as a policy priority. But although the rhetoric has changed, the overall policy drive remains one of competition, deregulation and further attacks on the European social model.

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