World Bulletin/News Desk
The Turkish government has long complained that the country is exposed to double standards by the European Union, which does not seem very willing to accept Turkey as a full member, but it turns out that some of Turkey's labor laws are still not in compliance with those of the EU -- despite the fact that negotiations for full membership started back in 2005.
“There are limitations [as regards the activities of labor unions] that are not present in EU member states,” Laszlo Andor, commissioner responsible for employment, social affairs and inclusion in the European Commission, has said.
Andor also drew attention to the fact that it's not purely the EU law on labor and unions that needs to be relied upon as a reference point, but International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, with possible implications that some elements of Turkey's regulations on labor are also incompatible with those of the ILO. “That's why we very much rely on the opinion of the ILO about the current situation [in Turkey],” he told Today's Zaman in an exclusive interview in Ankara.
Andor, who was on a two-day visit to Turkey, met in Ankara on Thursday with Turkish officials, European Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış and Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik, but also representatives of the labor industry in a comprehensive meeting before leaving for further talks in İstanbul on Friday.
During Andor's visit, discussions mostly focused on industrial relations: workers' rights, trade unions' rights, the rule of collective bargaining and the right to strike. Describing the issue as a sensitive one, he said: “We are now scrutinizing the functioning of the current legislation. And we are discussing with the authorities what steps need to be made.”
Andor is not pessimistic about the EU getting out of the economic and financial crisis, but he surely doesn't expect a quick recovery with the damage the financial crisis has left on the EU being serious. Noting that the European Council has been slow in reacting to the crisis, he said: “A systemic crisis would need systemic solutions, while very often just modest steps have been made. That explains why it has lasted so long,” adding, “In some cases, we even lack the commitment to a robust recovery.”
The EU has been slow in coming up with solutions to get rid of the crisis. A so-called banking union, a single supervisory mechanism for banks led by the European Central Bank to strengthen the economic and monetary union in the EU, came into existence only last year, although the crisis began back in the second half of 2007. “And the steps have been much slower in practice than envisioned one year ago,” the commissioner admitted.
In its efforts to overcome the crisis, the European Commission is determined to keep the eurozone intact, though various experts previously suggested that the best way to deal with the situation would be to reconsider the monetary union. “The commission has one very clear direction: Strengthen the euro,” Andor stressed. To this end, the commission adopted a “blueprint for a genuine economic and monetary union” just earlier this week.
Personally, the commissioner feels, the accession talks that started with a long delay should lead to Turkey's full membership in the union. Andor, who also affirmed that the political level in the EU is committed to progress in Turkey's accession talks, links unwillingness on the part of some members of the EU to admit Turkey as a full member of the club to the economic crisis in the EU and to “enlargement fatigue,” which he said undoubtedly exists in some member countries, with the EU having already taken in a good number of new members in recent years.Last Mod: 12 Mayıs 2013, 22:44