At the recent plenary session of the RSS “Solidarity”, the following Declaration was adopted that was sent to the European Trade Union Confederation on the occasion of the Social Summit in Porto.
of the Regional Trade Union Council „Solidarity“
on the occasion of the Porto Social Summit, 07 May 2021
European Social Rights for Whole Europe
We, national trade union organizations, members of the Regional Trade Union Council “Solidarity” (RSS Solidarity) that includes: UNION OF AUTONOMOUS TRADE UNIONS OF CROATIA, ASSOCIATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS OF SLOVENIA, CONFEDERATION OF AUTONOMOUS TRADE UNIONS OF SERBIA, UNITED BRANCH UNIONS INDEPENDENCE, CONFEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS OF THE REPUBLIC OF SRPSKA, CONFEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, UNION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS OF MONTENEGRO, CONFEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS OF MONTENEGRO, FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS OF MACEDONIA AND MACEDONIAN CONFEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS in coordination with our umbrella European Confederation of Trade Unions (ETUC) adopt this Declaration in relation to the Social Summit to be held in Porto this year.
In RSS Solidarity we are convinced that the Social Summit to be held in Porto on May 7, 2021 is an opportunity and has an obligation to put the citizens of Europe, their economic and social status, their social and labor rights at the center of European politics. The Western Balkans is an integral part of Europe and as such should be an integral part of European politics.
We are convinced that the future of the EU and Europe should be built on the fact that there is no economic recovery and development without respect for social and workers’ rights, without ensuring quality and decent jobs and without the stability of the social security system. Therefore, social and labor rights should be given equal importance as economic reconstruction.
Social dialogue, respect for social partners and timely involvement of representative employers’ and trade union organizations in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of reforms should be the focus and the only way to successfully implement change and reform in all European countries. In this respect, the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights is extremely important.
In RSS Solidarity we are convinced that the Porto Declaration should involve all institutional and social actors, and especially the representative social partners, in the implementation of the Action Plan. The role of social dialogue is extremely important in this regard.
Modern challenges such as globalization, aging society, migration, climate change, social inequalities, precarious work, organized crime and disease COVID-19 show that the EU and the Western Balkans share not only similar interests, but increasingly the same problems. In strategic, political and economic terms, the EU and the Western Balkans share the same fate. This interdependence requires joint action.
The Western Balkans continue to face high unemployment rates, especially among young people, high precarious work rates, significant skills discrepancies, long-term informal economies, brain drain, low participation of women in labor market and low levels of innovation.
In RSS Solidarity we are convinced that the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights should also apply to the countries of the Western Balkans, especially when assessing whether the criteria for EU membership are met. For these countries, and especially for the citizens of these countries, meeting the European Pillar of Social Rights would be of great importance, especially regarding social and labor rights of citizens.
In RSS Solidarity we are also convinced that compliance with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights and more timely involvement of social partners, especially trade unions, in the process of preparing legislative proposals and in all phases of drafting strategic documents should be one of the conditions for full EU membership. The social component and a functioning social dialogue should be an important element of the EU accession negotiations, and the impact of the reforms implemented should improve people’s quality of life.
In order to monitor the transparency and accountability of the political elites of the Western Balkans, the EU could require regular reports from the representative social partners on the state of social dialogue in the region and respect for social and labor rights.
We emphasize in particular that enhanced economic cooperation and trade within the region, as well as assistance on the part of the EU, must help in creating decent, safe and quality jobs, in reducing social disparities with the remark that all this must not be based on unfair market competition and social dumping.
It is necessary to ensure that the funds of the financial package in the amount of 3.3 billion euros that the EU mobilized for the benefit of citizens and businesses in the Western Balkans, in the right way be channeled and that people benefit from these investments, in accordance with the principles of the package. We are convinced that recovery from the crisis caused by COVID-19 should stimulate economic and social cohesion of the region, as well as green policies, and that green transition must be an integral part of a comprehensive, forward-looking recovery plan for the Western Balkans. Fair transition to green is extremely important in this regard.
We are convinced that the active participation of the social partners, among other things, by encouraging collective bargaining, in planning and implementing economic, social and other reforms can significantly contribute to increasing the economic and social convergence of the region.
We welcome the European Commission’s proposals to strengthen the accession process and the “green light” of the Council for opening accession negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia, however, we deeply regret the fact that the procedure has been blocked again and we call on all relevant actors to remove obstacles for negotiations as soon as possible.
We also note that our views and positions from the Declaration “Voice of Integration of the Western Balkans in the Shadow of a Pandemic”, which was prepared by RSS Solidarity on May 25, 2020 on the occasion of the Zagreb EU-Western Balkans Summit, are still relevant.