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Increase human rights protection along the Western Balkan route
In 2015 the number of refugees and migrants trying to reach the EU through the Western Balkan route increased tremendously due to the worsening conditions in their countries of origin. In recent months along this route many atrocities of human traffickers have been recorded. Additionally, many international organizations reported several and perpetuated violations of fundamental rights.
Vienna - 150.000 people standing in solidarity with refugees in Europe
On Saturday SOLIDAR member Volkshilfe (People’s Aid) Austria organised a giant charity and solidarity concert for refugees. 15 famous European artists, amongst them Zucchero, die Toten Hosen, Conchita Wurst and Bilderbuch performed at the Voices for Refugees concert. Between the acts famous athletes, artists, actors and representatives from all Austrian welfare organisations called for solidarity in Europe with those people who are fleeing war, oppression and persecution. One of the highlights was the emotional speech of Austria’s president, Mr. Heinz Fischer, who - as he was standing in front of more than a hundred thousand people - said that he was touched and proud of his country and its people who have shown so much readiness to help over the last few months.
Standards – a beauty contest?
When Anthony Gardner, US Ambassador to the EU, said in a recent debate on TTIP that the question of safeguarding standards “is not a beauty contest”, many thought that we Europeans were on the “good side” and had to defend our high standards against downward convergence. Without any doubt trade unions and civil society will continue to urge the ratification and respect of ILO conventions, for social protection, for collective bargaining and for social and public services. There our opinion has not changed and will not change! We expect the EU negotiators to defend at least our social and other standards, including the public procurement directive, but we know that we are not in confrontation with the US. SOLIDAR will soon publish a book with contributions from progressives from both sides of the Atlantic who share the same concerns and similar positions. A genuine contribution to transatlantic dialogue which is badly needed!
Civil society and NGOs joining forces once more on the flaws and fallacies of TTIP
On 10 October, NGOs and trade unions together with civil society will mobilise in Berlin for a big demonstration against TTIP, the trade and investment partnership agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and the US.
One of the main concerns around this agreement is the foreseen investor-state dispute settlement mechanism for private investors. This so-called ISDS would allow companies based in the US to sue EU governments for loss of profit if they feel encumbered by national legislation (e.g. stricter environmental or health legislation). The same goes in the other direction for EU companies being able to sue the US administration.