European Parliament holds hearing on worker rights for soldiers

Yesterday, the European Parliament’s Security and Defence Committee held a public hearing on improved worker rights of soldiers in Europe. The hearing came at a timely moment, with the implementation of the European Defence Union advancing swiftly but common rights for soldiers in EU joint military operations still missing.

Emmanuel Jacob, who spoke as an expert on behalf of EUROMIL, a European federation of military association, flagged up just how much trade union rights for military personnel vary across the EU Member States, with no rights granted in countries such as Italy, the UK, Estonia and Romania and not more than restricted rights applying in a further set of countries including France, Poland and Spain – even though other countries which already grant full rights demonstrate that trade union rights for military personnel does not yield in strikes and security problems.

Mr Jacob also explained how, despite European integration advancing swiftly in defence -the European Defence Union being a flagship initiative of the Juncker Commission-, a harmonisation of worker rights and working conditions of military personnel serving in joint military operations of EU Member States under the common EU flag is yet to be realised.

Some weeks ago in April, a CESI delegation including Klaus Heeger as well as Thomas Sohst and Wolfram Kamm from CESI’s member organisations DBwV (the German Armed Forces Assocation) and dbb (the German Civil Service Association) already met with representatives of the German Ministry of Defence in Berlin to establish how the European Defence Union’s new Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) can better take account of a human factor to harmonise labour standards for military personnel at the EU level. CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “The common market with common standards is a guiding principle of European integration. Here, I wonder why military personnel from different EU countries should, when serving in joint EU operations, face different worker rights and working conditions. This is neither fair nor practical.”

CESI is a long-standing proponent of an application of EU labour and social rights for the personnel of the military forces in all EU Member States as well as of common rights and working conditions for military staff during joint operations under the EU banner. Further information is available in recent resolutions here and here. Follow this link for background information about yesterday’s hearing in the European Parliament.

Picture: At the European Parliament’s hearing on rights of soldiers © CESI 2018