Lifelong learning: rights and duties
Eurofedop seminar
Fredericia (Denmark), 7-8-9 February 2002

On a seminar organised by the European Federation of Employees in the Public Services, some 100 participants from 17 European countries gathered to share their thoughts on "Lifelong learning as a condition for quality in the public services". Representatives of the European institutions, Eurofedop delegates, employees and employers tried to put the numerous initiatives of the European Union on lifelong learning in a public service context.

Most speakers acknowledged that lifelong learning for everyone is far from being a reality. Ms. Jensen, Member of the European Parliament (Denmark), stressed the fact that the EP has only very limited powers in this field since the member-states are autonomous in their educational policies.

Regarding the content of continuous training programs, the participants concluded that a balance has to be found between on the one hand the individual need for self-fulfilment and on the other the organisation’s need for better quality or increased productivity.

Therefore the competencies or skills in an ever-changing knowledge society are more broadly based and learning should go beyond specific work-related skills. The social dialogue is the most appropriate instrument in establishing this balance and guaranteeing social inclusion. Nobody however denied that lifelong learning is a right and a duty for the employee in contemporary society.

Although more investment in continuous training is absolutely necessary, the example presented by the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries showed that also organisational measures, such as job-rotation and leave of absence, can contribute to a successful implementation of lifelong-learning policies.

New technologies such as eLearning can offer opportunities for interactive, more personalised and cost-effective training but employers should be aware of the negative aspects.

A particular problem is the validation of non-formal or informal learning. This must be solved on a European level to make Europe a knowledge society without borders. Furthermore the participants urged the European institutions to push the member-states to achieve a knowledge society for everyone.

Finally, Mr. Leo Pauwels, Chairman of EZA thanked both organisers and participants and stressed the importance of the EZA network and its indispensable role in the representation of the workers’ interests in Europe.


European Parliament
Parliamentary Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

On 14.01.2002, a reassignment took place of all members of the European Parliament, elected in 1999, that fulfilled a specific function. This reassignment was related to the chairmanships of the political committees (17) and the seats in the Presidium (15).
The chairmanship of the parliamentary committee on employment and social affairs was assigned, after difficult negotiations between the groups, to Theo Bouwman (Group of the Greens, Netherlands). Now he can direct the social policy of the Parliament during two and a half years.

Before his membership of the European Parliament, Bouwman was employed in a consultancy office on the introduction of new technologies in companies.
Do you wish to know more about Bouwman and the complete composition of this parliamentary committee ? See : www.europarl.eu.int/committees/empl_home.htm


European Commission/DG Employment and Social Affairs
"Liaison Forum"

Although the meetings of this committee are strictly informal, they are excellent forums where the sectoral partners can meet each other.
Both the employers’ federations and the trade union delegations come to these meetings, in the first place to be informed of general evolutions, but also of specific points with regard to sectoral social dialogue.
Thus, on 23/11, a presentation was given of the draft interim report of the high-level group on the future of industrial relations. Ms M.J. Rodriguez, president of the high-level group, is very interested in getting feedback on themes and issues relevant for social dialogue and the different instruments relating to the outcome of social dialogue. The fact that she really takes account of our remarks, became clear at the first group meeting that was set up within the protocol of Laeken. Here the question was raised whether it is true that now only the confederations are allowed to sit at the negotiation table. How can one proclaim that sectoral dialogue is important and only admit the confederations to the negotiation table ?

At the forum session on 28/01, the following items were discussed. Outcome of the Laeken Summit and the Social Summit with the Social Partners. Budget B3-4000 industrial relations and social dialogue. Call for proposals 2002. Enlargement process. Possible contribution of sectoral social partners to employment data in sectors.
These and previous sessions under the chairmanship of Fay Devonic, Head of Unit, assisted by e.g. for our sectors M. Barbedo Maria (Telecom), Carlos Lopes (Post) and K. Devos (Public Services), are followed up by Eurofedop and documentation on our actions and standpoints are communicated and distributed personally in the course of these sessions.

The next meeting will take place on Friday 01 March 2002 in Brussels at 14.30


Eurofedop’s Congress to study the evolutions in the public service

Since several years, the public services have been given central attention. As a corollary of the "State of Providence" for more than 50 years, now they are undergoing the influence of the tendency towards neoliberalism that is characteristic of the policies of each State.
Even their necessity is sometimes called into question, their efficiency is judged as insufficient and both the politicians and part of the population are of the opinion that their costs are excessive. They are evaluated in terms of the values that count in the world of private business and that are based on the laws of competition and an optimal relation between quality and price. Thus we note that the public services are more and more turning into companies that have to be profitable and, consequently, risk to neglect their specific task, i.e. to fulfil a social role in a society where inequality remains. Therefore, as a result of being continuously compared to the private sector, the public services are undergoing profound transformations that are dictated by the management methods that are prevailing in the private sector. Several times already, this modern evolution has shown to inadequately serve the interests of the citizens.

What is the place of the personnel, whose task it is to make the public services work, in this vast movement towards transformation ? Are they consulted over the changes that are necessary ? Are they allowed to be actively involved in the numerous audits that are decided by the politicians ? Is there a real dialogue between the responsible authorities of the public service and the personnel, whose task it is to make the public services work ? If this question is raised in the context of each country, it is also raised in the context of the European Union, as this is precisely a place where practices concerning the working of the public services and policies concerning the personnel are being discussed.
EUROFEDOP, European trade union organisation for personnel of the public services, supporter of trade union pluralism and an open dialogue with the authorities, has decided to hold this congress with a view to discussing the different evolutions that are taking place in the public services and determining its position on these evolutions.


EUROFEDOP/ACOM CONGRESS
30th May to 1st June 2002

In cooperation with ACOM, CNV trade union for military personnel (Netherlands), the Non-profit association training and information will organise a three days’ congress on the theme of the development of social dialogue in an integrating Europe in the public services.
This central theme will be divided into three subthemes through which we will examine the state of affairs with regard to social dialogue in the public services in the EU as well as the progress that has been achieved in the field of sectoral social dialogue. Today only in the sector of Post and Telecom there is question of this dialogue between the European Employers’ Organisations and the European Trade Unions among which EUROFEDOP. It is obvious that this dialogue must also be achieved for other sectors of the public service.
Another theme of great current importance is the further development of the European Security and Defence Policy. As is known, a European Defence Identity should become reality in 2003. In relation to this matter, several actors are involved and national versus international positions and interests play a big role.

Moreover, in relation to this complex matter, it is astounding to note that, with the realisation of this goal of a European defence identity, hardly any attention is given to the conditions of those that this defence identity will have to be finally composed of, namely the personnel, at least from the point of view of the trade unions of the personnel of Defence within EUROFEDOP.
The third theme is about the problems that are linked with the fundamental rights of employees of the public service in the various countries within the European Union. Today, A.D. 2002, it is still reality that, in a number of European countries, groups of employees of the public service do not possess these fundamental rights as laid down in articles 5 and 6 of the European Social Charter (ESC). In a democratic Europe this is an element that, in the vision of EUROFEDOP, is not acceptable.
Introducers and speakers at this congress will be the Minister of Defence of the Netherlands, Employers’ Representatives, Politicians (National Parliament Members and European Parliament Members), Officials of International Organisations and Trade Union Representatives.


A Network for European Judicial Training

At Laeken on 14 and 15 December 200I, the European Council for the first time called "for a European network to encourage the training of magistrates to be set up swiftly", as "this will help develop trust between those involved in judicial cooperation". Although the need to set up an efficient European judicial training system would seem the same in view of both civil and criminal matters, the European heads of state and governments obviously restricted their request to the latter -conclusion 43 is entitled "Eurojust and judicial and police cooperation in criminal matters". This is in line with a proposal for a Council Decision on setting up such a network which the French presidency tabled on 14 November 2000 and which also did not envisage training in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters.
The need for judicial cooperation in the area of administrative law is illustrated by the EU competence to legislate in asylum and migration matters which, nota bene, was made a first pillar competence by the Treaty of Amsterdam. Another area where European training will be pertinent very soon is the implementation of the future decentralised EU competition law regime.
The Academy of European Law of Trier (ERA) has, since the beginning of this year, its own office in Brussels. The permanent representation of the ERA in Brussels is one more address for all questions concerning continuous training on European Law.
Bert Van Caelenberg, Secretary General of Eurofedop, was present at the reception to celebrate the opening of the office, on 19th February 2002 in Brussels.

Dr. Wolfgang Heusel, Director of the Academy, and former speaker at one of our trade councils Justice, presented his team of collaborators.
This year ERA will still organise a special conference on health care in a European context.
ERA Representation in Brussels
Dr. Frank Friedrich
ERA Representative
Brussels
Tel : +32.(0)2.736 25 02 03
ERA (Academy of European Law Trier
Metzer Allee 4
D-54295 TRIER
Germany
Tel : +49.(0)651.937 37-0
Fax : +49.(0)651.937 37-90
E-mail : info@era.int
Website : www.era.int


XXth Infedop Congress
20-21-22—III—2002, LUXEMBOURG

Click here to view the BASIC DOCUMENT "Ethics, new forms of employment and social dialogue in the public services" (pdf file)