Publication: Sunday November 29, 2020 2:30 PM
The President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Christa Schweng, says that “it is obviously possible” for companies to avoid hiring a worker if they do not want to be vaccinated against Covid-19. “As an employer, I can decide with whom I sign a contract”, declares the president of this consultative body of the European Union, which issues opinions to the Community institutions on behalf of employers, workers and organizations of the European Union. civil society. “The worker,” Schweng says, “can decide whether he wants to work (for the company) or not” in case the vaccine is forced to sign a contract, although “it would have to be seen if an employer only wants people. vaccinated in his company “.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” he said. Faced with the vaccination campaigns that European governments are starting to present, the President of the EESC does not think that the injection should be compulsory, “because a vaccine is an attack and each one must decide individually if he wants it or not for him- even”. And he believes that the first to benefit are health workers, “because it is they who are most easily in contact with patients” and the elderly at risk. Schweng claims that “the contracts of the European Commission (EC) with pharmaceutical companies to guarantee vaccines for all of Europe” were “a good idea” because “with individual action by member states, this would not have never worked so well “.
Brussels has concluded agreements with Pfizer and BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK and Johnson & Johnson and concluded negotiations with CureVac and Moderna. All vaccines must first receive approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which has already indicated that it does not plan to evaluate them, at the earliest, before the end of the year. “This crisis has shown how important Europe and (…) European cooperation is” and “this is where we say that a European Health Union is needed”, says Schweng, barely a months after taking office at the EESC. , after 22 years in the organization.
This Austrian is the fifth chairman of the consultative body since its creation in 1957 and, of the ten leaders so far in the 21st century, the second woman. “Whether you are a man or a woman is secondary. The important thing is to take your job seriously and to do it with enthusiasm,” Schweng says. “Women don’t dare to do a lot of things and there are a lot they don’t do. I can’t say if the world would be a better place if there were women in power,” says EESC president . However, he appointed a man as chief of staff (Markus Stock), but the rest of his team are made up of women.
“Hope is the last thing you lose,” Schweng says of the chances that the EU and the UK will reach a Brexit deal before January 1, 2021. For the EESC leader, which expresses Brussels to the world of business and work, “what is always negative, in any case, is uncertainty. It is a fundamental problem for companies (…) which cannot plan. ”
He also has “high hopes” that at the next summit on December 10 and 11, European leaders will reach a pact with Hungary and Poland on the EU budget for the next seven years and the recovery fund, that all three countries refuse to ratify due to the conditionality associated with the rule of law. “It is important that this huge sum (a total of 1.8 trillion euros) reaches its rightful place: workers who now need work or who are simply in an ERTE,” asks Schweng.