Although the Declaration is not as ambitious and concrete as the trade union movement would have liked, notably on a Just Transition framework, it contains references to important trade union priorities and can be leveraged to a concrete legal initiative. In particular, it refers to:

  • Actions to close the gender pay (and pension) gap
  • Quality jobs, with a focus on collective bargaining and pay
  • The need to restore the labour share of income
  • Importance of collective bargaining and social dialogue
  • Support and reinforcement for cross-industry and sectoral social dialogue, and support for social partners’ agreements
  • Full respect for prerogatives of trade unions
  • Need for actions to uphold the right to training
  • Stressing the potential need for action on telework, the right to disconnect, AI – with the ‘human in control’ principle
  • Upcoming evaluation of ELA, measures in the areas of subcontracting and agency work, support for counselling, and support for mobile workers
  • Reinforcing collective bargaining and social dialogue, and promoting information and consultation and participation as key elements for anticipation and management of change
  • Confirmation of ‘vision zero’ for work-related deaths. Possible initiative to tackle psychosocial risks (even if “evidence-based”). Importance of prevention of heat and other climate change related hazards and to speeding up the setting of minimum standards for hazardous substances. Need for efforts for prevention and elimination of violence and harassment at work
  • Importance of high-quality public services and of actions on housing
  • Reference to the use of public procurement to promote collective bargaining – including evaluation of the Directives and possible further steps
  • Importance of upward social convergence and social investments
  • EPSR to be taken into account in the external action of the EU, including trade policy. Assisting candidate countries in the implementation of the social acquis and fostering upwards social convergence. Support to and promotion of social dialogue, social partners and collective bargaining in accession countries.

We now have to ensure that this Declaration is part and parcel of the strategic agenda for the 2024-2029 period and becomes the social policy compass for years to come. It is essential to ensure that we do not go back, but we move forward. The La Hulpe Declaration is the compass to navigate the transformation, promoting a fair transition and delivering on quality jobs, including fair pay, good working conditions and healthy and safe workplaces for all. 

These social ambitions will only materialise if Member States have the necessary fiscal space to finance these objectives. However, this will not be possible with the economic governance rules currently proposed. The new fiscal rules will only bring back austerity. And austerity will fuel inequalities, not social progress. This is why MEPs have to vote against the proposed rules next week. 

ETUC press release