Education International
Education International

EI Europe supports the ETUC's drive to protect and strengthen public services

published 1 December 2006 updated 1 December 2006

EI Europe strongly supports the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in its call for the protection and strengthening of public services in Europe.

The Europe-wide petition, launched on 28 November, calls on the European Commission to take action to protect and strengthen public services that are vital to the well-being of all European citizens.

The ETUC believes it is time to take decisive action to safeguard key public services - known in the EU as services of general interest (SGIs) or services of general economic interest (SGEIs) - which are being undermined by liberalisation, privatisation, and the introduction of free market rules.

The SGIs have a decisive influence on the quality of people’s lives, and are central to social, economic and regional cohesion in Europe. For this reason the ETUC regards universal access to services - covering anything from water, energy supply and waste management, to education, healthcare and social services - as a fundamental right.

"Services in the EU need a strong regulatory framework to ensure continuity of supply and fair access for everyone," said ETUC General Secretary John Monks. "They must be of the highest standard, and therefore accountable to both consumers and workers in these crucial sectors."

Just two weeks ago, the European Parliament approved the proposal for a directive on services in the single market, which had been substantially amended following a resolute campaign by trade unions across Europe, led by the ETUC. Those changes focused, among other things, on the need to keep SGIs out of the scope of a directive that is designed to boost competition between service providers. The ETUC has already put forward a draft directive (20.09.06), as have other key actors, giving the Commission a basis to work from. But so far, despite repeated requests, no proposal has come forward.

The petition campaign will be coordinated by the ETUC in cooperation with its affiliates in EU Member States and other partners. The petition will be available for signature both online and on paper.

To sign the petition, please visit the ETUC website: www.etuc.org