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The EU elections are about European core values

michael uni europa
Pro met with the Chair of UNI Europa Finance Michael Budolfsen in Helsinki, where he took a stand on, for example, the turmoil in Finland's labor market policy.

The EU elections are about European core values

Published 17.04.2024 at 12:48
Written by
Pro news
Pro met with the Chair of UNI Europa Finance Michael Budolfsen in Helsinki, where he took a stand on, for example, the turmoil in Finland's labor market policy.

Pro's key partner in the financial and insurance sectors is UNI Europa Finance, headquartered in Brussels. The organization represents a total of 1.5 million employees in the financial sector in more than a hundred trade unions. We met the chairman of the organization, Michael Budolfsen, in Helsinki, where he took a stand on, for example, the turmoil in Finland's labor market policy.

– Your current government seems to have lost its sense of history. They clearly don't understand what they're getting into - or the scale of the changes they're driving. Employers may be complacent at the moment, but when the government changes, this change in mindset will affect them too. The Nordic labor market model has given us a competitive advantage, and now the Finnish government is choosing a Central European labor market model instead of the Nordic one, Budolfsen states.

 Budolfsen considers the EU elections to be held in June to be particularly important, as the stakes are high.

- More than 60 percent of the members of the European Parliament will change. When a lot of new people come on, the power of the central administration is emphasized. At the moment, jobs in the EU administration are not particularly attractive to, for example, Nordic people, and when people from a different operating culture are hired, this has significant effects. People coming into office might not value dialogue or the culture of agreement or recognize trade unions as a social partner, so it is very important also to have Nordic people in the administration in Europe as well, says Budolfsen.

Always for the next generation

The next five years are indeed vital: the trade union movement must change this course of development. People who believe in Europe, democracy and core European values, regardless of party background, must be voted into power.

- We should talk about European values ​​and know how to look beyond the generations: what kind of labor market will we leave behind or what kind of climate. The work of trade unions has always been future-oriented - it is always done with the next generation in mind, Budolfsen emphasizes.

As a result of the financial crisis, the finance industry at last internalized the fact that multifaceted challenges need internationally agreed common solutions - even the financial crisis could not have been solved by one single country. When we take a positive approach to development, it is possible to influence its direction, as shown by the AI ​​debate and the international work that regulates it.

Budolfsen points out that when talking about Europe, size matters. Through its networks, Pro gets a seat at EU-level tables and working groups. UNI Europa is listened to because of its position. UNI Europa initiated, for example, the whistleblower protection law that now covers the entire EU. If Finland wants to hold on to workers' rights, it can only be done by being at the table in Brussels, Budolfsen notes.

Through UNI Europa, Pro influences the working conditions and working conditions of transnational companies and, in connection with the social dialogues of the European Commission, the regulation of the financial sector at the EU level. Common gains have been achieved, for example, in the responsible use of artificial intelligence and in terms of the diversity in the workplaces. These matters agreed at the EU level then become tools for the local negotiation level.

Regulation, but not over-regulation

In the financial sector, work is very much related to regulation, the basic principle of which –regulation, but not over-regulation – is self-evident in the Nordic countries, but not elsewhere in Europe. If there is over-regulation, the workers will pay, when jobs are reduced. We therefore need fair regulation that enables sustainable and profitable business and is based on proportionality: less risk, less regulation.

Well-intentioned regulation can also turn against the rights of employees - to avoid regulation, it may seem attractive to a company to reduce the number of employees if the regulation is purely based on the number of personnel.

Read more about UNI Europe Finance
Read more about Pro’s goals for the EU-election (in Finnish)