The new elected EZA President Bartho Pronk
Last year at a meeting in Königswinter (Germany) the members of the European Centre for Workers’ Questions (EZA) elected Bartho Pronk as their new president. As a former member of the European Parliament and, before that, as an employee of the CNV International department, he is well acquainted with European social and workers’ affairs. This is of importance for EZA as a network consisting of 67 workers’ organisations from 24 different European Union countries that are committed to Christian social values.
Bartho Pronk holds office since the first of September of this year. For this reason EZA has published an interview with Bartho Pronk in its latest bulletin which can be found on the EZA website. In the interview he mentions two key-challenges for EZA. The first and most important challenge will be to find solutions for the impact of the actual crisis in Europe, particularly with regards to employment. Average unemployment in Europe is about 10% but in some countries, as for example Spain, unemployment reaches around 25% (whereas youth unemployment is currently approximately 40%). The second key challenge for EZA is “to involve its members in a process which shows that more can be achieved when we work together than when we don’t work together.”
With the financial support of the European Commission a lot of European training courses and meetings are organized by EZA for trade unions and related workers’ organizations annually. In spite of the different cultural backgrounds and different stages of development of the European countries Bartho Pronk believes that these European courses and meetings help to develop common points of view and to look for new solutions for social problems on national and European level.
In the interview Bartho Pronk makes clear that he considers the Christian social doctrine as a source of inspiration that helps to develop new answers to the social and economic problems of today. “Of course, not everything that was done in the last 30 years is invalid, but some things have to be re-assessed. The situation has changed in such a way that we have to take a good look at it again.”
“The social dialogue is hugely important for European integration. Why? Economic integration is still a major part of European integration, and that requires employers and workers. Although there were very many cultural differences in the past, ways were found to negotiate. And in times of crisis it is absolutely vital that on the one hand economic solutions are found to overcome the crisis but on the other hand social needs are also met. It happens to be the case, and we have seen this before, that every time one country is in crisis, the countries that seek a solution through social dialogue are more successful. It is always easy to say that the welfare state has to be abolished because it costs too much, but that's not the case. It ends up costing a great deal more than seeking a solution through social dialogue. After all, in the final reckoning what matters are people, not the economy. The economy must not be allowed to harm people.”
Regarding the Eurocrisis he believes that it is important for EZA to make studies because there is a lot of talking about this crisis, the biggest since the crisis of the 30’s in the past century, but some points are not discussed at all as for example the role and responsibility of the USA in causing great part of the problems.
Other points that are mentioned in the interview are the aims of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the role of EZA and the enlargement of the EU and what possibilities he sees for the future of EZA.
Bartho Pronk together with EZA vice-president Piergiorgio Sciacqua
· You can read the whole interview in different languages (German, Spanish, English and French) in the latest EZA bulletin which you can find on the EZA website. There you will also find an interview with the newly elected EZA Vice-President Piergiorgio Sciacqua, President of the General Council of the Movimiento Cristiano Lavoratori (MCL)