Today in Paris starts the 13th Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). It will be attended by nearly 500 voting delegates and another 200 without the right to vote, representing 90 national trade unions from 40 countries. They will be joined by reps of 10 more federations and other trade union structures. The discussions, brought together in four main panels will continue four days. The Congress will vote the Theme Paris Manifesto, the new Working Programme 2015 – 2019 and some resolutions. Elections will be held for a new President, Secretary General, 2 deputies, 4 Confederate Secretaries and 5 auditors.
The opening ceremony will begin with greetings from the French President Hollande and the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo. Delegates will be saluted by European Commission President Juncker who, in his speech on March 5 this year, made a commitment to the revival of social dialogue. At the same time, though, the pressure of the EC for liberalization in transport does not decrease. Mr. Juncker is expected today to give a clearer political signal of his position on the “hot potatoes” – the mobility package, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the work/life reconciliation and, generally, the “REFIT” Programme for updating the Commission’s work upon Europe 2020 strategy. President Juncker called it “my programme for jobs, growth, justice and democratic change” and this brought him the electoral victory last year. Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, will also greet the delegates. Recently the Parliament openly opposed the Commission and the Council by voting in favour of better conditions on maternity leave. It is expected that such a position for a more social Europe will be confirmed today.
During the congress, the Women’s Committee, whose vice-president is the FTTUB president Ekaterina Yordanova, will undertake activities dedicated to the elimination of violence against women.