Fair, sustainable and social: UNI Europa’s view on EU trade policies

Yesterday, Regional Secretary, Oliver Roethig, was invited to speak at an event to recognise Trade Policy Day at the European Parliament.

Sitting on a panel with Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, and representatives from the WTO, World Economic Forum and top universities, Roethig gave the perspective of trade unions. He stated that “trade policies and trade agreements should foremost improve the living and working conditions of people substantially. We want an approach that is fair, sustainable and social as well as ensures competitiveness through quality rather than through social dumping.”

Roethig also explained that trade policy should protect the European social model by being aligned to the twenty principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was proclaimed in Gothenburg on 17th November. He emphasised that, as the biggest trading power, the EU has also a responsibility to make trade work for other countries, their citizens and workers.

Having a fair trade policy is also key for gaining the trust of European citizens. As TTIP showed, citizens do care and they have concerns on the fairness of the EU’s trade policies and whether it serves citizens or only companies. We should see how trade policy can be used to tackle abuse of workers’ rights by governments, local companies and MNCs.

Roethig made the following key points on the social dimension of a trade policy and trade agreements:

Roethig concluded by stating that the Commission must take the lead, together with the European Parliament, member states and social partners, to develop a fair trade policy in the social and labour field.

You can see the programme from the event here.