Editorial of the Secretary General: The future of the EU, work and CESI

Dear colleagues, members, partners and friends,

Now that the new Commission is in place, time to focus on the to-do list for the coming years.

As the Commission´s work program is not yet adopted, looking at the respective mission letters to Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis (An Economy that Works for People) and Commissioner for Jobs and Social Affairs Nicolas Schmit gives an idea of the initiatives to be expected.

As for Valdis Dombrovskis, he is, among other tasks, supposed to overview the action plan to coordinate the European Pillar of Social Rights, to lead the work strengthening the role of social dialogue and to refocus the European Semester on sustainability. In all three areas, CESI has vital interests and has been involved intensively in the different dossiers over the past years. We look forward to continuing the cooperation with Mr Dombrovskis, who has repeatedly shown his sensitivity for trade union pluralism.

The letter of mission to Nicolas Schmit highlighted his tasks as follows:

Delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and its 20 principles, ensuring that every worker in the EU will have a fair minimum wage, monitoring and enforcing EU legislation for dignified, transparent and predictable working conditions, and looking at ways to improve the labour conditions of platform workers.

CESI has been deeply involved with all of these subjects, and in the first meeting with Nicolas Schmit, we had a tour d´horizon on the specific challenges of his portfolio. Interestingly, and in addition to his commitment for the tasks assigned, he both underlined his will to further include CESI in the EU decision-making process and highlighted the need to shift of paradigm regarding the importance of the public sector for the economic and social well-being of societies. Something we took positively notes of.

As for the upcoming Croatian Presidency, a “Europe that develops, a Europe that connects, a Europe that protects and a Europe that is influential” will lie/remain in the focus. Croatia´s Ambassador to the EU, Irena Andrassy, highlighted the key dossiers: the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, the European Green Deal and the EU´s enlargement to Western Balkan countries. Here too, CESI has some irons in the fire if one thinks of our new trade unions in the Balkans, our interests in avoiding budgetary cuts in the social sphere and in anticipating the future of industries (and trade unions) in the context of climate change.


Speaking of the future, CESI is partner of the EPC project on the future of work. On a major conference which takes place on Monday, December 9 in Brussels, the main findings of the project will be presented.

From CESI´s side, we are invited to comment on some of the aspects of the report, namely on how the actions of trade unions could be reinforced to improve trade unions density among atypical workers, on how to resolve the tension between the fixing of tariffs (e.g. through collective bargaining) of so-called dependent independent workers and competition law, and on how platform workers could be classified in the future. Furthermore, our VET spokesperson, Stefan Nowatschin, will also take part in the panel on Access to training in the 21st century.

One thing appears to be clear: A new systematic approach and strategy seem to be required. Hence, we will support a particular role and function of the EU in the clarification of the status and protection of atypical workers, self-employed and platform workers.

Remember: All workers count.


Finally, as this Newsletter is the last in 2019, I seize the opportunity to thank all of you for the great support and cooperation which we could benefit of.

At the last Congress in 2016, Romain Wolff and I highlighted that CESI has achieved a standing within the ‘fabric’ of Europe. And as it seems, this standing could be improved even further.

We would, therefore, like to express our sincerest thanks to all those who have actively participated in CESI´s work: the member organisations, the mandate holders and, last but not least, the staff at the General Secretariat which is as dedicated as ever.

In a recent meeting at the Leuven University, a Belgian professor for social law told us: “In the first time since 25 years, I am again positive when it comes to the social side of the EU.”

Enough reasons to be well-prepared and motivated for the years ahead, don’t you think?

In this spirit, we wish you all Merry Christmas and a happy new year 2020!