Claude Rolin: “The Europe of tomorrow will be social or it will not be”

Belgian MEP (EPP/Christian Democrat Group), Claude Rolin is Vice-President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL). During the last legislature, he was in particular in charge, as rapporteur, of the legislative revision of the directive on the protection of workers against the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens in the workplace. For the next legislature, Claude Rolin will not renew his mandate as MEP. A former Secretary General of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (the first organization of employees in Belgium), Claude Rolin presents here the results of the Juncker Commission in the social realm.


In July 2014, during his inauguration as President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has made a commitment: to allow the European Union to be awarded a “Social Triple A”. He also aspired to be the president of the revival of the European social dialogue.


As we approach the end of this legislature, we may now take stock. If, at first, the dynamics of change was far too slow, admittedly the second part of the legislature allowed real legislative progress in the social field. These include the Directive on the balance between professional and private life, the directive on transparency and the predictability of working conditions and, above all, the revision of the directive on the posting of workers.

I will also highlight the revision of the directive protecting workers exposed to carcinogens and mutagens, which I was the rapporteur for the European Parliament. Cancer is the leading cause of work-related mortality in the European Union. In response to this tragic situation, the European Commission undertook to revise the 2004 directive on carcinogens and mutagens (CMDs). For more than two years, we worked on the development and adoption of an ambitious revision. This will prevent 100,000 deaths in the next fifty years. Through this directive, a Europe that protects is not just a formula; it’s a reality.


The culmination of this legislature in the social realm was certainly the holding of the Göteborg Social Summit and the adoption of the European Social Rights Platform by the Heads of State and Government. A set of measures validated both by the Council and by the Parliament and the Commission. It seems that in Sweden a window of opportunity was opened for the concrete revival of social Europe. It should be exploited in the next few years and especially it should be prevented from closing again.

This is why the European elections to be held from 23 to 26 May will be decisive. It is important that the next legislature consolidates and strengthens the defence of social rights because, we are convinced, either the Europe of tomorrow will be social or it will not be.


Claude Rolin 
Vice-Chairman of the EMPL Committee