Commission Recommendations a 'Missed Opportunity’ to Promote Better Working and Living Conditions

23 May 2018

Social Europe

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has described the European Commission Country Specific Recommendations to the government as a ‘missed opportunity’ to promote better working and living conditions in Ireland. 

Congress was responding to the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) issued on May 23 under the European Semester process of economic policy coordination.

In its recommendations the European Commission urges the government to reduce the budget deficit and the national debt, implement the National Development Plan and promote productivity growth in Irish firms.  

Congress General Secretary Patricia King said: "The Commission says this year’s CSRs dedicate ‘special attention’ to social challenges and build on the European Pillar of Social Rights endorsed by EU leaders - including the Taoiseach - last November.

They describe this as a ‘compass’ towards better working and living conditions across Europe. "Yet this year’s CSRs to Ireland say nothing, once again, about the poor quality jobs, i.e. low pay, precarious work, insecure contracts etc. endured by  hundreds of thousands of workers in Ireland each day, particularly young and female workers," Ms King said.  

"This is in stark contrast to the Commission’s recommendations for other countries. For example, it recommends that the Netherlands reduce incentives that encourage temporary contracts, tackle bogus self-employment and create conditions to promote higher wage growth. Similarly, it urges Austria to ‘improve labour market outcomes for women’. 

"We want to see similar recommendations promoting better jobs included in the final CSRs to Ireland, that are to be adopted by EU Finance Ministers in July. "We note that the Commission’s recommends that the government reduce tax expenditures.  For example, the Commission along with the OECD and the IMF have criticised the continuation of the reduced VAT rate for (low-paying) hotel and restaurant owners, which the Department of Finance estimates costs some €600 million a year.   

"Abolishing this measure alone in Budget 2019 would provide enough funding to build over 3,000 social homes next year," Ms King concluded.