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Sinn Féin concerned EU Constitution may not adequately protect workers rights

8 September, 2004

Sinn Féin MEP for the Six Counties Bairbre de Brún has today said that "the current EU Constitution may serve to cement a two-tier Europe".

Ms de Brún was responding to comments made by EU lawyer, Professor Brian Bercusson of Kings College, London who said that an EU Constitution will strengthen the rights of workers.

Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:

"Sinn Féin would welcome any initiative which seeks to improve the conditions, rights and entitlements of workers throughout the EU. However, we believe that the EU Constitution, in its current state may serve to cement a two-tier Europe .

"Whilst the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is generally a progressive document, it does not go far enough to safeguard rights for EU citizens. The Charter repeatedly and explicitly states that the protection of many workers rights contained within it, are to be in accordance with national laws and practices. Therefore, in a number of instances, member states national law still supersedes EU law in the field of workers rights.

"There are also moves to ensure that companies can use their own country's labour laws even when operating in another member state. There are obvious dangers here to workers' rights also.

„It must be remembered that the EU is still committed to the Lisbon Agenda, which is founded on two key premises ˆ that increasing competitiveness is the key to resolving the financial problems of the EU, and that this requires the privatisation of public companies and assets. Secondly, the Lisbon Agenda also seeks what it refers to as labour market "flexibility" which is essentially another way of actually weakening the rights of workers.

"I recognise that much progressive legislation in regards to workers rights have emanated from the EU, but it should also be recognised that the draft EU Constitution may present more negatives than it will positives. " ENDS

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