The meeting, which took place at CESI’s offices in Brussels, was particularly relevant given that Defence policy will be at the heart of the European Council summit in December 2013.
The working group learned about European Security and Defence policy from the point of view of Member States and of the European level. In dealing with Defence issues, in particular in the realm of social policies, social partners are faced with many challenges. Coordination at European level remains a challenge due to the fact that competence remains firmly in the hands of Member States. Coordination is consequently intergovernmental and hard to achieve.
The Trade Council announced the obstacles that must be overcome in social issues within Defence policies. Responding to the suggestion of a European Ombudsman for military staff, it was stated that Treaty change would ultimately be necessary for such a proposal to come to light, as it is the current Treaties which set out the relationship between the EEAS and the EU institutions. Therefore it is important for social partners to focus their efforts elsewhere. Raising awareness of the issues (rights of military staff) amongst the military decision-makers at national and European level would be a good place to start. A multi-pronged approach will achieve more.
Following the working group, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger commented that the meeting “highlighted the shortcomings as far as rights for military staff are concerned. It is now for CESI and its member organisations to put in the hard work in an attempt to gain ground on the issue of social rights for military staff at the European level”. He therefore wants to further promote the CESI position paper that claims for a high level of rights of military staff.