A social Europe and a Europe of work, the contribution of workers' organizations

From 14 to 16 May 2019 took place in Paris a seminar about “A social Europe and a Europe of work, the contribution of workers' organizations”, organized by ACLI - ENAIP (Associazioni Cristiane Lavoratori Italiani - Ente Nazionale ACLI Istruzione Professionale), with the support of EZA and of the European Union.


A few days before the European elections, with the wide spreading of nationalist sentiments, it was important to organize this moment of reflection on the theme of the future of Europe and on how workers' organizations can contribute to the development of Europe's first raison d'être: the peace. Peace can be preserved with solidarity among peoples, acceptance, a good work for everyone, care for the environment, training, support for the family, universal welfare.


For these reasons, it is more necessary than ever to strengthen the associative realities consolidated by a long experience, and those that can find new flowering and development, to break the grip of solitude, make room for solidarity and collaboration, and give life to new collective subjects to orient the life of societies and the functioning of institutions on the way of social cohesion and economic and cultural progress. The future of social Europe may find in them the decisive strength for a positive growth.


The seminar was important because it is not difficult to see among the people of European countries a sense of loss and even fear because of the pressing changes and their unpredictable effects that the world of today generates.

The 'globalization' not only convinces that everything is interconnected, but it makes understand that the centers of power and the direction of the decision-making processes are anonymous or in any case remote, and increasingly escape not only from the individual citizen but even from the same actors of the national policies.

The manifestations of social unrest that suddenly burst, are the signal of a condition of collective suffering that is hard to elaborate and cure, because they move from the deep level of a disoriented and restless collective conscience, in which the effects of a prolonged economic crisis play a significant role.

During the three days there were about 80 representatives of workers’ organizations coming from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Switzerland (as guests), Brazil (as guests), Argentina (as guests), Luxembourg, The Netherlands.

Work has been discussed: the work that changes and risks excluding instead of integrating women's work, welfare, support for families, education, social justice, universal welfare, and the contribution that workers' associations can make to foster the construction of a more equal and citizen-friendly Europe, in a time of growing subordination of the social aims of political integration to the imperatives of budgetary discipline and economic competition.

The theme of populism has also been discussed and how it grows from the social anger of those who fall behind to obtain consensus.

All the reports enriched the debate, starting from the Lectio Magistralis of Mons. Crociata, first Vice-President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), who insisted on the importance of social dialogue, citing the words of the Pope: «Foster dialogue - any dialogue - is a basic responsibility of politics, and, unfortunately, too often we can see how it turns into a clash between conflicting forces. The voice of the dialogue is replaced by the cries of the claims. From many quarters there is the feeling that the common good is no longer the primary objective pursued, and this lack of interest is perceived by many citizens”

He also referred to the COMECE document on the Future of Work which calls for a social dialogue between workers and employers on an equal basis to shape the working environment, but also a social and civil dialogue that brings European policies to a balance between the interests of ones and those of others. The workers’ organizations and the associations of civil society have a special responsibility in this area, because there are not only social but also moral and cultural aspects, since the future of Europe is at stake.

Marc Lazar illustrated the origins of populisms, Tommaso Vitale territorial inequalities and social anger, Mirella Giannini the gender distances between women and men in the labor market.
With Mauro Montalbetti, David Lopez and Ali Hamnache there was a debate on immigration, with concrete examples of experiences and the proposal for an EU more welcoming and attentive to human rights.

Results of the seminar:

As the ACLI President Roberto Rossini concluded, considering the situations of the EU countries, it is absolutely necessary to support a proposal to revise the Maastricht parameters, as to include other important issues of the European reality, linked to poverty, unemployment, but also to other urgent issues  as CO2 emission rates, because the situation of those who live in areas with high levels of air pollution should be taken into serious consideration as others. It would be good to work all together to protect the integral health of people, their existential and social condition together with that of the places they live in, and not just to carae about the health of the banking system. It is necessary to work to make Europe embrace policies that take together the economic-financial dimension with the safeguarding of the human and social condition.

It would also be interesting and desirable that the migration policies, as well as the environmental ones, could be removed from the competence of individual Member States and become EU competences. With regards to these policies, in fact, the single countries find themselves in difficulty due to the narrow range of action that their interventions can have: Italy is a clear example in this regard. If the migration issue were not, as is happening now, faced with limited and individual defensive policies, but rather became a subject fully addressed at European level, perhaps it would be possible to arrive at a better management with mutual sharing of responsibilities. Likewise can be said about the environmental theme, which includes everything and in particular the future life of new generations, especially on the eve of a very near future in which the problem of water, primary good for life, will come to impose itself with force and could constitute a pivot of friction and conflict even in the rich and civilized Europe.

Workers' organizations are an important link between civil society and institutions and are therefore able to collect the demands, the discomforts but also the energies and the need for change and be their spokesman. To continue to exist and develop, social Europe must however be thought of as an "anti-elite" project, that is mainly aimed at countering the excessive inequalities that undermine the quality of life of citizens. That is why workers' organizations are called to discern and elaborate on cultural and political level to implement social dialogue in a functional and effective way for improving the conditions of European citizens and building a complete European identity.