The ETUC Memorandum welcomes the British determination to make tackling unemployment a prime objective and to improve European regulation. Yet it also notes that the British government is often perceived as an opponent of 'Social Europe', "and has taken a leading role in blocking important European social legislation", ETUC said in a June 28 statement.
The mood of the meeting with Mr Blair was nevertheless generally constructive, Owen Tudor, head of the UK's TUC (Trades Union Congress) European Union and International Relations Department, told Europe Information Social on July 1. "He was positive about dialogue with all the social partners - including both trade unions and employers", Mr Tudor said. "He really wants to figure out how you actually can re-connect the European project with people in Europe, and we agree with him that a critical focus has to be on employment". Yet Mr Tudor would not speculate on whether or not the UK Presidency would actually get around to tackling the Working Time Directive. "The prospects of anything happening over the next six months are slim", he said, adding that technical fine-tuning is more likely to top the agenda. "Effectively we are still in a period of reflection".
Working time not entirely off the radar screen.
The UK Presidency does not specifically cite the Working Time Directive as a key priority on its official website, as opposed to the Services Directive, which is given a mention. A 52-page White Paper put forward by the British government on June 30 to...