Akava's objectives for the election of the European Parliament and the new Commission: More but better EUAkava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland, embraces Europe-wide co-operation and its strengthening, as well as Finland's membership in the European Union. The EU has brought peace, democracy, stability and large Internal Market to our continent. Its benefits to citizens include free movement. In addition, the EU provides Finland with a channel of influence as regards global matters.
However, EU operations must still be improved, making it a more social union that is closer to its citizens, and one with a stronger economy. Rules must be abided by, and member states must implement all made decisions. In summary: more but better EU is needed. Therefore, the new European Parliament and Commission must develop the EU in the following direction:
Greater share for knowledge in the EU budget
Knowledge, creativity and innovation are essential tools with regard to the improvement of employment and the competitiveness of the EU. This requires that a sufficient proportion of the EU's budget is allocated to research and education as well as investment in the improvement of the quality of knowledge and rewards for high-level quality.
- Modernisation of the structures of the EU's multiannual budget failed. The share of appropriations allocated in the budget to research and education must be significantly increased.
- The national implementation of research and education programmes and structural funds and the funding criteria used therein must create a strong link with national goals and funding.
- Cooperation between the OECD and the EU must be increased in order to improve the quality of education, enhance teachers' competence and ability to work, and also to create a Youth Guarantee that takes the needs of newly graduated university students into account.
Out of the crisis via growth and competitivenessThe primary method for setting the economy and employment on an upward trajectory is growth. In order to improve competitiveness and create smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy must be enhanced. Free trade, productivity, innovations and the development of the internal market are keys in this regard.
- Consumer trust in the digital internal market as well as the usability of services therein, unified taxation practices and logistical solutions must be increased.
- The diversification of energy production and opening of the internal market must continue with a competitive price level as the ultimate goal.
- Free-trade agreements that remove obstacles to exports and trade must be entered into on a comprehensive scale, while also taking into account sustainable development and fundamental labour rights.
The EU as an engine of high-quality, equal working lifeFunctional internal market requires clear rules. In addition to capital, services and goods, these rules must also concern people. This is why the EU must develop up-to-date rules for working life that prevent the distortion of competition. In addition, the Economic and Monetary Union requires a strong social dimension. Due to these reasons:
- The protection provided by the Working Time Directive must cover Professional and Managerial Staff, the maximum weekly working time must be reasonable, and the concept of working time must be retained unchanged without creating a grey zone between working time and leisure time by introducing the concept of non-active working time.
- A directive proposal on trade unions' right of class action would advance the rights of workers in the weakest position. Employers acting in compliance with the legislation would also benefit from class action, since it would make it easier to intervene in competitors' illegal activities, which often distort competition.
- Fundamental rights must not be subjugated to internal market and economic freedoms. Fundamental rights must be reinforced by such means as the EU joining the Council of Europe's Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and by ensuring the EU's legislation complies with the conventions of the International Labour Organization ILO.
- In order to ensure productivity and wellbeing at work, a strong occupational health and safety strategy is required, including such items as the Ergonomics directive and the reinforcement of mental health protection in the EU framework directive.
- The directive on the framework agreement on parental leave must be revamped into a family leave system complying with the 6+6+6 model that guarantees both parents a six-month personal leave and lets families decide how to spend the additional joint six-month period.
Increased mobility and well¬-managed immigrationMoving around in the EU area must be as convenient as possible for both workers and other citizens. Well-managed immigration increases the EU's knowledge capital, but equal treatment and employment terms must be ensured.
- The right of unemployed people to seek employment in another member state while receiving their unemployment benefit from their country of origin must be extended to six months.
- The added value of the EU's immigration directives to Finland has been limited. These directives should allow for well-functioning national procedures to be retained within the common European framework.
- What are significant to Finland - also in terms of volume - are mobility arrangements between the EU and Russia: mitigated procedures and, where the agreed requirements are met, visa freedom should be sought.
A tax union is requiredStrengthening of EU’s economic policy and an advanced internal market require stronger union-level action in issues related to taxation, meaning a tax union. Moreover, the problems arising from the grey economy, distorted tax competition, tax havens and other such matters are becoming increasingly blatant. Finland should belong to the forefront countries developing the EU's tax co-ordination. Thus:
- Activities related to tax havens must be banned in the EU area, and determined action against such activities are necessary on the global scale.
- Minimum levels of taxation should be adopted for types of taxes related to the functioning of the internal market such as corporate taxation.
- In order to increase openness, an exchange mechanism for taxation information, including all types of income, must be created between member states and on the global level too.
Yes to the euro, strong economic policy and country-based bearing of responsibilityThe disintegration of the EMU would mean immense economic and employment problems. Therefore, the EU's economic co-ordination must be increased even more in order to ensure the functionality of the eurozone and the survival of the euro currency. The guiding principles are adherence to the rules and each country's responsibility for its own debt. Savings policy must entail flexibility to ensure the preconditions for economic growth, but revisions to economic structures are necessary to maintain the welfare state as well as competitiveness.
- The banking union must be advanced harmoniously by implementing functional supervision of all banks and by creating a crisis resolution mechanism for banks' financing difficulties.
- Jointly issued Eurobonds may only be implemented using a model that reinforces each country's fiscal discipline and commitment to their responsibilities.
- The procedures of the Economic and Monetary Union and the role of the European Central Bank must be further strengthened, but member states and the Commission must be obliged to hear the social partners during all key phases of the European Semester.
Implementing sustainable economy and social responsibility to create the futureSustainable environmental and climate policy creates new jobs and business opportunities. Climate agreements must be implemented on the basis of progressive and responsible energy and climate policy. The creation of a sustainable economy also entails the advancement of social responsibility via EU-level measures.
- In order to enhance the supervision of social responsibility, binding rules for publishing social and environmental information in annual reports must be implemented. These rules must also prevent companies' aggressive tax planning measures.
- The EU's climate policy goals and targets must be sufficiently high, but at the same time it is important to include countries outside the EU in their enactment.
- Research and product development investments in cleantech must be significantly increased, and Finland needs to pass a law that takes the EU's goals into account and also creates better preconditions for the development of industrial sectors.
In praise of civil society and the tripartite systemThe EU has taken steps forward with regard to democracy and openness, but it still needs to get closer to workers and other citizens. Thus
- Commissioners and the EU President must be elected by direct vote or from among members of the European Parliament.
- The powers of the European Parliament vis-à-vis the Council should be further augmented.
- In addition to economic policy, the Treaty's obligation to hear labour market organisations must be extended to labour-based immigration, education and certain issues related to the internal market, for instance.