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During discussion on ESSEDE’s work programme for 2016/17, the EPSU representatives suggested:
The employers had surveyed their members on how the outcomes of ESSDE projects had made an impact. The variation of distribution and impact was noted. The unions agreed there was a problem in dissemination of information, but also how national social dialogues work. The unions called for strengthened outcomes with strong recommendation. The employers were not keen on agreeing recommendations; they preferred joint guidance, which is weaker.
The final joint work programme was agreed. The main areas are:
Sophia Eriksson from the European Commission presented ‘New priorities for European Co-operation in Education and Training, and Investment in Education in the EU.’
The new priorities cover all learning – from pre-school and informal education and lifelong learning. They were adopted at the November EU Council meeting.
The six priorities:
The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) would also oversee new funds consisting of loans of a minimum of 10 million euros. These would be offered through the EU investment bank and would focus on riskier investments. Eligible sectors would include ‘environment, human capital, culture and health, in particular through education and training, cultural, and creative industries’
The EU commission saw these loans as an addition and not a replacement of national funds or privatisation.
EPSU delegates commented that what starts as ‘additional money’ usually leads to the withdrawal of public funds. Examples were given which showed that costs increased and the private sector always made money, demanding to be paid even when the original projects were no longer needed.
Sophia responded that the commission had called for an increase in public investment; that it shouldn’t be replaced and that additional private capital should be tried. The union side, however, was not convinced by her comments. We are concerned that EU civil servants lack experience in this area and that private companies are well-versed in how to easily exploit well-meaning civil servants.
The meeting studied four recent projects:
Lithuanian Teachers’ Strike
At the end of the meeting, the union side gathered for a photograph to show solidarity with the six teacher trade unions in Lithuania that were demanding that the wages of teachers in Lithuania, which have been frozen for eight years, should be restored.