Supporting Workers’ Rights, Jobs and Enterprise
Our Policies

European Manifesto

Labour and our sister parties across Europe are leading the fight to restore a Social Europe, through initiatives like the elimination of zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment, and stronger measures to support workers whose jobs are at risk of being displaced by new technology.

Across Europe, the share of national income going to workers has declined in recent decades. The numbers of working poor are on the rise and people are at risk of poverty because prices are increasing, hourly contract jobs in the “gig economy” are more insecure, and public services are being reduced and starved of funding. There is an urgent need for wages across Europe to rise, with faster wage rises needed in the countries with lower pay. There is a persistent gender pay gap across Europe that must be closed. All of this would boost demand, enable sustainable and inclusive growth, reduce in-work poverty and reduce inequalities.

The European Union, in the past, was led by socialists and social democrats, and as a result ensured higher standards of worker protection than existed in the United States or other major economies. However, as technology and the nature of work have changed, and as the EU has become more dominated by right-wing governments across Europe, rules to protect workers have not kept pace, and the EU has become narrowly focused on deregulation, market liberalisation and competition law. We need Labour parties to be stronger in the European Parliament, and in member states, to force economic policies to go in a new direction.

  • There needs to be sufficient investment to create good quality, sustainable jobs in Ireland and across Europe
  • Labour representatives will campaign for a long-term EU Investment Plan that supports regional development, State industries, infrastructure, research and innovation, training and life-long learning. The ultimate goal of this plan would be creating the conditions for quality jobs that are sustainable in the context of the green transition, the digital revolution and the growth of artificial intelligence
  • We will seek investment to help integrate people with disabilities into the workforce
  • In a race-to-the-bottom economy where precarious work is becoming the norm, workers’ rights must be protected and strengthened
  • Working with our sister parties across Europe, we will demand stronger European rules that uphold and promote the right of workers and trade unions to engage in collective bargaining, including a Framework Directive entitling every worker in Europe to the right to be represented by a trade union in negotiations with their employer on their pay and terms of employment, if they so wish, and ensure employers must engage with trade unions
  • The new European Labour Authority needs to be a body with proper teeth when it comes to protecting workers. That’s why Labour will call for it to have strong powers to prevent social dumping and to promote fair labour mobility
  • Workers who are in precarious work in the gig economy or are contracted into dodgy bogus self-employment arrangements need to have better protections. This can be achieved by building on the recently agreed European Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions
  • There needs to be an EU-wide definition of “work” and “worker” to help underpin legal protections for people involved in new forms of precarious work and other paid activity in the gig economy
  • The Labour Party will make sure that there is proper implementation of common EU rules for all workers to have written contracts in a language they understand, and for fair salaries, with a ban on zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment
  • We will seek binding EU rules to require employers to give workers a minimum level of pension cover, and we will seek EU standards on the quality and security of pensions, including measures to curb the creeping extension of retirement ages, especially for manual workers
  • There needs to be greater enforcement of rules on the recognition of European workers’ qualifications, including the qualifications of workers with a disability
  • We will call for the participation of workers, such as in European Works Councils
  • Labour will campaign for a European floor of workers’ rights
  • The adequacy of European law when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and robotics needs to be reviewed
  • We will explore the possibility of taxation on robots/AI where they are displacing jobs
  • We believe that workers should have a right to retrain if their jobs are replaced by technology
  • There needs to be greater protection for workers against excessive scrutiny, including electronic scrutiny, and the unfair pressure of unreasonable work targets
  • Labour MEPs will back proposals to alter European rules to support workers’ right to disconnect outside of working hours, in a context where email and other work activity has encroached into people’s private time and is unremunerated
  • Working with our colleagues in the trade union movement, we will promote the merits of a four-day working week or six-hour day (without loss of pay) to counter-balance the growing amount of required work done outside of regular hours, such as work done at home or through mobile devices
  • Building on the recently agreed European directive on work-life balance, there needs to be improvements to work-life balance for parents and carers, including equal status between part-time workers and full-time workers, and Labour will promote EU rules to enhance flexibility about working hours, to allow families to manage caring responsibilities without their career progression or incomes being penalised
  • We will strengthen Social Europe and the social dimension of European policy by supporting more Qualified Majority Voting by member states on matters relating to anti-discrimination, social security and social protection of workers, the protection of workers who are made redundant, workers’ and employer’s representation, and employment conditions for third-country nationals
  • It’s time to reform the Eurozone
  • There needs to be real and meaningful change to European fiscal rules. We will advocate for the revision of the Fiscal Compact Treaty to ensure that States can always take strong action in the event of high unemployment or other economic crises, including climate change
  • As part of our contributions to the design of the European budget, we will put forward ways that will make sure that low pay and precarious work are better addressed by the EU
  • We will amend the basic mandate of the European Central Bank (ECB), so that it must base its decisions on the need to reduce unemployment as well as to maintain a low level of inflation
  • The ECB inflation target needs to average 2-3%, rather than be rigidly set below 2%
  • We will call for structural and institutional changes of the ECB to make it more democratically accountable
  • We believe that there needs to be a review of the ECB’s ability to issue bonds to assist States to better manage their debt levels and to attain lower cost borrowing, and to assist private banks for special categories of investment such as retraining, start-ups, social housing and climate change
  • There must be greater equality for all workers
  • Working people deserve a pay rise, especially those on low pay. Working with our sister parties in the Party of European Socialists we will work to reverse the recent trend where the share of economic growth going to workers has declined
  • We need a mature discussion across Europe about implementing an EU wide living wage policy that would benefit all workers. This would provide a higher social floor for minimum wages that would guarantee workers a decent standard of living
  • The EU must make resources available to aid a national action plan to revitalise our towns. This will advance economic and community development, and enhance employment, public services and quality of life
  • We will seek additional European investment to provide high quality, affordable early years education and care services, provided by better paid workers, so that all children have access to high quality services and so that parents can take up employment
  • Labour MEPs will be at the centre of the campaign for a renewed European Maternity Directive, to include statutory provision of one year’s leave and minimum payments aligned to existing salary, alongside more comprehensive general parental leave to allow a greater sharing of parenting
  • The rules around wages need to change. That’s why we will demand enforcement of stronger EU rules on equal wages for the same job being done in the same place, such as in construction and in maritime work, and advocate for the use of European registration cards and/or Safe Pass schemes to ensure all workers are paid equally, and insist on tighter rules on the reflagging of ships to prevent inequalities of pay and conditions for workers doing the same jobs
  • We will work towards a European Social Action Plan
  • We believe that the European Pillar of Social Rights should be transformed into binding rules that strengthen welfare systems, respect labour market models and improve living standards
  • Labour will call for a specific funding strand within the next round European Social Funds Plus (ESF+) (2021-2027) to support the implementation of an EU Social Action Plan
  • There must be minimum standards of social protection and welfare across Europe. We will push to raise welfare rates and standards across member states, with the aim of developing a European minimum income guarantee
  • In the event of a rapid increase in unemployment, we will seek an EU-level unemployment insurance mechanism, to support member states
  • Following the work of Labour in the European Parliament in the past we will look to extend the Youth Guarantee of a job, traineeship or education, to ensure full employment for young people and to reduce social exclusion. We will promote voucher schemes (European Culture Cheques) that support young people’s access to culture
  • There must be protections for interns, trainees and apprentices to eradicate the exploitation of younger workers, and a greater range of apprenticeship options, linked to industry, for young people leaving secondary school
  • Labour MEPs will work to establish a European Skills Guarantee, so that people who are unemployed will have guaranteed access to training to help them acquire the skills they need for re-employment and social inclusion
  • Support reinforcement of Erasmus 2021-27 and seek for it to benefit people from all social backgrounds by extending it to all post-secondary education, training and apprenticeships
  • We must end tax evasion
  • There has to be a common European approach to prevent tax evasion by big corporations and to avoid member states being played against one another by multinationals engaged in aggressive tax planning and tax avoidance
  • The Labour Party is in favour of digital taxation and Financial Transaction Tax at European level
  • We will defend Ireland’s autonomy in relation to tax policy, while actively supporting EU measures to close tax loopholes and to ensure corporations pay their fair share of taxes