European Federation of Journalists

EFJ’s reaction to President Juncker’s State of the Union Speech

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has made his State of the Union speech outlining his vision for the future of Europe.

Commenting on the State of the Union speech, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes his commitment to address the social dimension of the digital single market in particular in the area of social and workers’ rights.

In his speech, President Juncker said: “In a Union of equals, there can be no second class workers. Workers should earn the same pay for the same work in the same place.”

Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ General Secretary said: “We welcome the Commission’s push for the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights among member states. But we are yet to see some actions among member states.”

“It is important that all workers across EU shall enjoy the same rights and protection. In the case of journalists, freelance journalists are often treated as second-class workers because there is a lack of social and labour protection among member states. There is an urgent need to reform the labour law and social protection system in Europe to adapt to the changing labour market.”

“We hope that member states will commit themselves to build a social Europe by agreeing on the European Pillar of Social Rights in the Gothenburg summit in November. After that, we need to see concrete actions to be taken by member states to show their commitment,” added Gutiérrez.

Together with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the EFJ called on the Commission and members states to develop concrete action plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. The EFJ will join the European Day of Action launched by the ETUC on 16 November, the day before the Gothenburg EU summit, to call on member states ministers to adopt the Pillar.

On Turkey, Juncker called on the Turkish authorities to release the jailed journalists. He said: “Journalists belong in newsrooms not in prisons. They belong where freedom of expression reigns. The call I make to those in power in Turkey is this: Let our journalists go.”

The EFJ welcomes the call but emphasized that European institutions need to be more consistent in its approach on Turkey. “For example, the EU policy on Turkey regarding the refugee issue is contradictory. On the one hand, the EU is funding Turkey through payment for them to keep refugees out of Europe while telling Turkey that they violated human rights and freedom of speech,” added Gutiérrez.

Photo credit: AFP.