Council of Europe, Strassburg, 22-27.09.2001, "Parliamentary Assembly NGOs"

Both at the "Parliamentary Assembly" and the NGO sessions, the discussion concentrated on the issue of "Terrorism". It was clear that the same language is spoken by both groups : punish, but not hate !
During the various NGO sessions, one wanted to resolutely contradict the negative insinuations that are uttered towards NGOs in connection with the problem of "Terrorism".
The "Liaison Committee" insisted for the Council of Europe to change its "consultative role" into a "participatory" role.
A warm call was made to all NGOs for being maximally present at the conference of NGOs/Parliamentarians on "Citizenship, solidarity : what Europe do we want ?" on 6-7.11.2001 in Strassburg.
In the Grouping on "Human Rights" the proposal of resolution on "conscientious objectors" was generally approved.
In the Grouping on "Dialogue and Solidarity North-South" one mainly discussed the NGO week and the North-South Centre in Lisbon.

4th Congress of the ESCU
(European Senior Citizens’ Union)
Brussels (European Parliament), 17-18.10.2001

At the opening, the Congress welcomed the EPP President, Wilfried Martens.
The European Union pays attention to the problems of the elderly people and the solidarity between generations. Consequently, it is elaborating directives by which it aims at guaranteeing the security of pensions for the generations to come.
The participants from member states and candidate member states gave their views on the different reports; during the debate, the items of discussion were motions on statutes, contribution regulations and future perspectives.
MEP Dr. Marilies Flemming made a communication on the enlargement of the Union, particularly as concerns the older people.
The Congress was also pleased by the political interest shown by the EPP President, the European Parliament and Commissioner Viviane Reding. Eurofedop, that has the status of observer since the creation of the ESCU, was represented by secretary general Bert Van Caelenberg
Bert Van Caelenberg
secretary general Eurofedop

The Parliament of the Public Service
Vienna (Austria), 16-18.10.2001

From 16 to 18 October 2001, the trade union of the public service of Austria has held its congress in the Austria Center in Vienna. In the presence of appr. 1000 delegates, this 14th Congress is a four-yearly activity that is in the first place an internal trade union event. Apart from the elections of the members for the board, the purpose of this congress is to determine the political lines with the voting on positions that are submitted in documents, and have been prepared months in advance.
It is also a media event. The GÖD has succeeded in breaking through the negative image of the public service, with its professional approach.
The government was also represented at the congress and held speeches to defend its position. Thus the Prime Minister, Dr Wolfgang Schüssel, spoke with so much praise about the dedicated efforts of the public service that we would have almost forgotten the reforms that are announced for the public service (e.g. with regard to statute, pensions, etc.).
However, the absence of the vice-prime minister, responsible for the public service, made clear that the title of the Congress, "Lust auf Morgen" (keen about tomorrow) is not a title that she is very enthusiastic about. As guest to this Congress, it was an honour for Bert Van Caelenberg, secretary general of Eurofedop, to sit in front of the meeting room, representing the European Christian Group, next to Mr. Fritz Verzetnitsch, the ÖGB President who is also President of the ETUC.
This Congress had been preceded by the sessions of the different Political Groups (14 October 2001). At the meeting of the FCG, the Christian Group, Guy Rasneur spoke as the President of Eurofedop. He referred to the reforms taking place in the public service of the countries in Europe. Training, permanent retraining and a greater right to speak are essential elements with every reform. The public service must have a future and, therefore, its activity field must be extended to problems such as the environment, poverty, education and the care for the old. There is a contradiction between the precarious statute of some of the workers in the public service and the durable nature of tasks trusted to the public service. Large European institutions must engage in dialogue with public service trade unions in order to find answers to the absolute supremacy of the market.

In this respect, the Eurofedop President underlined at the GÖD/FCG Congress that it is necessary to reinforce the trade union action at European level. He noted that account has to be taken of the values that distinguish us, so of the principle of trade union pluralism.
He also underlined that, in light of the globalisation strategies deployed by governments, this should not prevent us from responding to such strategies, also in a more global way, by means of alliances between trade unions and after the determination of common objectives.
With an overwhelming majority, Fritz Neugebauer was once more elected president. Together with his collaborators, among whom a few new faces, he will have the heavy task of helping the GÖD find its way through a very difficult negotiation period.
On behalf of Eurofedop, we thank the GÖD and GÖD/FCG board for the words of recognition that Eurofedop received at this Congress. Also on behalf of the Eurofedop guest representatives, we express our appreciation to the people in charge of the organisation.
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Bert Van Caelenberg
Secretary General Eurofedop