EU elections

By voting in the EU elections in June, you will also make an impact to the Finnish working life. Vote for a candidate who defends working life equality and employee rights!

What are the EU elections?

The Members of the European Parliament, i.e. MEPs, are elected in the EU elections held every five years. The European Parliament exercises great power together with the Council of the European Union. The Council is comprised of EU ministers.

Schedule for the EU elections in Finland

  • Advance voting: 29 May–4 June 2024
  • Election day: 9 June 2024

The European Parliament elects the European Commission. The Commission drafts EU’s legislative proposals. By voting in the EU elections, you will thus make an impact to legislation at EU level which is also connected to Finnish society and working life. A significant part of EU legislation is implemented in municipalities, meaning that the elections will also have a direct impact on many Trade Union JHL members working for municipalities.

These EU elections will see an increase in Members of the European Parliament, i.e. MEPs. There will be 15 more MEPs, which puts their total number at 720. Finland will get one extra MEP.

How are laws and decisions made in the EU? This is a simplified graphic of the decision-making process.

Why is it important to vote in the EU elections?

In these elections, voters will be voting on whether Europe will continue its policy of solidarity that helped us overcome the coronavirus crisis. In addition, employees and companies were supported in accordance with the policy. Another option involves strict cost-cutting measures that are an attack on employees. Which one will you choose?

The EU has extensive powers in social and employment policy. In recent years, numerous necessary acts have been adopted to improve working life equality and safeguard the negotiated terms and conditions of employment for the employees. However, these reforms are incomplete, so legislative work will continue during the coming election period. You have the chance to decide who gets to be a legislator and the direction in which acts are legislated.

EU legislation also deals with many other important themes affecting employees. Matters related to the environment, safety, migration, social policy, consumer rights, the economy and the principle of the rule of law are taken care of there.

Trade Union JHL encourages people in Finland to vote for a candidate who appreciates working life equality and employee rights.

Euroopan Unionin lipun edessä on vaaliuurna, johon käsi vie äänestyslipukkeen.

How the EU affects your daily life

The EU elections may seem like a distant thing, but the decisions made in the EU are seen and felt close by. The EU affects the daily life of every person in Finland by making decisions on, say, these matters:

  • Social and employment policy (including terms and conditions of employment, occupational safety and health, gender equality)
  • Early childhood education and care and training
  • Public transport
  • Land use and planning
  • Energy, waste and water management
  • Food and foodstuff safety
  • Rescue services
  • Security of supply, crisis preparedness, critical services, cyber security
  • Regulation of digitalisation and artificial intelligence: data economy, data protection, saving and processing of data in public administration

The EU guarantees a lot of rights to its citizens, and we easily take these rights for granted. For diverse additional information on how the EU affects everyone’s daily life, see the European Commission’s EU & Me publication.

Euroopan Unionin lippu liehuu sinistä taivasta vasten. Oikeassa yläkulmassa ammattiliitto JHL:n logo.

Some of the themes important to Trade Union JHL in the EU elections

  • Labour market dialogue and collective agreement negotiations must be strengthened nationally and at European level.
  • Further developing working life legislation must be continued.
  • Equality in working life must be improved, uncertainty and insecurity must be diminished. All employees must be guaranteed an employment relationship status when the characteristics of an employment relationship are met. The Platform Work Directive must be completed.
  • Reforms of occupational safety and health legislation must continue. The risks are changing, they include psychosocial burden and working in a hot environment.
  • Employees and trade unions must be involved in preparation and realisation of digitalisation at all levels, from workplaces to EU decision-making.
  • The employees’ competence must be ensured.
  • The regulation of remote work must be reformed so that it responds to the challenges related to working time, health and safety.
  • Employees must have the right to manage their personal data.
  • Investments are needed in the public sector’s ICT competence. Dependency on private companies has to be reduced.

The EU and a digital future

  • Digitalisation helps to create jobs, advance education, increase competitiveness and innovations as well as combat climate change and make the green transition possible.
  • In the time after the Covid-19 pandemic, digitalisation has a central role both in the economic recovery and in ensuring the resilience of the healthcare and care sectors in Europe (for example with digital healthcare services).
  • The EU is committed to creating a safe digital environment for the citizens and businesses.
  • The EU has responded to the need to regulate the digital space with the digital services package:
    • The Digital Services Act (2022) establishes the new rules that protect the fundamental rights of the EU citizens online.
    • The Digital Markets Act (2022) creates a more level playing ground for companies in the EU by regulating large technology companies.

Read more: European Council: A digital future for Europe

EU-level social partners’ agreements on digitalisation

The agreement on digitalisation for central and federal government, 2022

  • The social partners for central governments (TUNED and EUPAE) have requested for a directive from the Commission because the current agreement is not binding.
  • The agreement is extensive. It contains regulation on matters such as data protection of individuals, psychosocial risks, the right to disconnect, equality and partner abuse.

European social partners framework agreement on digitalisation, 2020

EU-level social partners’ negotiations for an agreement on remote work in 2022 and 2023

  • Broke down in autumn 2023 when the employer party withdrew from the negotiations.
  • The purpose of the negotiations was to update the 2002 framework agreement on telework.
  • A new topic in the agreement was the right to disconnect.
  • The European Commission published in February intermediate targets on the path to climate neutrality.
  • The Commission recommends reducing net greenhouse gas emission by 90% (compared to the 1990 levels) by 2040.
  • The Commission also highlights carbon carbon sequestration with novel technology as a new measure in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

SAK supports the European Union’s recommendation to set the target to reducing emissions by 90%, as long as the transition to a climate neutral society in done in an orderly way, listening to employees and recognising their concerns and needs. SAK stresses in its statement the impacts that climate action has on employment and on competence needs. Funding should also be allocated to reskilling and upskilling. SAK also demands for a dialogue with all stakeholder groups. Dialogue between the governments and the labour market parties must be strengthened.

The European Green Deal

The goal of the EU’sThe goal of the EU’s Green Deal is to make Europe carbon neutral by the year 2050 and to create sustainable and green economy:

  • Make Europe the first climate neutral continent.
  • Net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.
  • Leave nobody and no region behind others.
  • The programme will also help the EU to overcome the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Cleaner air by the year 2030.

SAK’s goals in the Green Deal:

  • New employment opportunities must be advanced especially in those sectors and regions where jobs are lost for climate action.
  • Transition to a carbon neutral economy can only succeed and get the support of employees if climate action feels just.
  • Employees must have opportunities to use working arrangements and it must be economically attractive for them to update their skills as the work changes or, when needed, to get training that enables them to work in a new sector.

Even though it’s difficult to predict the precise effects on jobs, it’s expected that the EU’s Green Deal will create new jobs and promote sustainable economic growth in Europe. At the same time, it may have effects on the existing jobs and require changes in skills and in ways of doing things. The Green Deal also requires getting ready proactively and planning the transition phase together with the employees.

New green jobs:

  • The goal is to advance the use of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, sustainable transport solutions and circular economy. The growth of these sectors will create new jobs for example in the solar and wind power industries. Additional professionals of energy efficiency, recycling and sustainable development are needed.
  • There are certain areas of expertise and professional groups that are inevitably going to disappear because of the green development:
    • industries using oil, coal, gas and peat
    • traditional automotive industry
    • heavy metal industry
    • traditional agriculture.

Growing needs for training:

  • Realising the green transition requires a lot of new skills and technology professionals. Experts of low-carbon economy and engineers are needed for developing and realising the green solutions. This can lead to new training needs and possibly also to establishing new educational institutions and programmes.
  • New kinds of skills are also needed in many other work tasks. It’s important to provide upskilling and train employees for changed work tasks and occupations. New skills are needed for example in the construction, transportation and logistics and food industry sectors. The education and training sector, on the other hand, is in a key role in increasing knowledge about the green transition and sustainable development.

Changes in jobs:

  • More stringent environmental regulations and increasing energy efficiency can impact the content of many jobs, including the manufacturing industry, energy production and the construction sector. For example, replacing the fossil fuels with renewable energy sources can reduce traditional jobs so that for instance employees of coal-fired power plants suffer from the change. At the same time, the development of new technologies can create new jobs.
  • More stringent environmental regulations and increasing energy efficiency also affect jobs in the public sector, for example in land use planning, transport, public procurement, water services, waste management and recycling.

Funding opportunities:

  • Investments and support packages that are connected to the EU Green Deal can offer many funding opportunities for businesses. This can support the businesses’ growth, competitiveness and hiring.
  • For example, the EU’s Just Transition Fund (JTF) compensates for adverse socio-economic and environmental impacts of the green transition. The regions in Finland have used this funding in particular for phasing out the use of peat and for diversifying livelihoods.
    • SAK has considered the application scope of the Just Transition Fund too narrow. Its focus is on regions dependent on industries and energy-production that are based the use of coal, oil or peat or carbon. In Finland the transition manifests especially in energy-intensive manufacturing industry (in particular chemical industry, processing industry and paper industry) and in energy industry also beyond the peat sector (for example municipal power plants).

Innovation and research:

  • The Green Deal stimulates innovation and research in sustainable development. Investing in research and innovation can advance the development of new green technologies, and this in turn can create new jobs for researchers, engineers and technology experts.
  • Workplaces will have new technology that requires learning also from employees in other roles. The ways of doing the work will change.
  • The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive statutorily obligates companies to comply with due diligence related to human rights and the environment.
  • The forced labour regulation prohibits the sales of products manufactured with forced labour, and introducing such products to the market in the EU. The regulation also prohibits the export of products manufactured with forced labour from the EU market – regardless of whether they have been manufactured in Europe or imported from elsewhere.
  • Human rights must be safeguarded in public procurements financed with tax revenues, and in the value chain of the companies participating in the procurements.

EU’s equality directives also bind Finland and steer our legislation.

  • Equality and non-discrimination legislation must be further developed at EU level in order to further promote real equality and non-discrimination.
  • Equality and gender impacts must be evaluated when preparing any legislative and political actions.

Pay transparency promotes equality

  • The Pay Transparency Directive (2023) will enter into force in the Member States in 2026 at the latest.
  • The average pay difference between men and women is 12.7 per cent in the EU.
  • There are differences between women and men who carry out work of equal value.
  • In addition, collective agreements that have discriminatory clauses still exist.

Directive for combating violence against women

  • This directive is historic and an important step forward in women’s rights.
  • The directive is almost complete. It focuses on preventing forms of violence, adequately protecting the right of victims, and on the accessibility of the legal system. It also includes the combating of cyber violence and cyber harassment.
  • Many EU countries still have shortcomings in their national legislation on equal treatment, for instance in cases of violence.
  • Violence against women and for instance rape have been determined in different ways in different EU Member States. As a result, rape in one country is not a rape in another country.
  • The directive is lacking a consent-based definition and the punishability of rape which are supported by the Commission and Parliament, but which the Member States did not approve.
  • Labour immigration is important to economic growth and safeguarding services in many European countries – Finland included.
  • When workforce is recruited, it is necessary to ensure that the employees get terms and conditions of employment that correspond to the laws and collective agreements in the country of work.
  • Family reunification must be made easier to help immigrants integrate and commit to their new home country’s society and working life.
  • The state, municipalities and employers shall prepare for the challenges and costs arising from the immigration of foreign employees’ family members. The need for public services is increasing and diversifying.
  • If a person is residing in a country on a work-based residence permit, and they end up unemployed, they must get enough time to look for a new job before the permit is cancelled.
  • In public procurements, responsible goods and service purchases shall be made in order to prevent labour trafficking and the exploitation of foreign employees.

The EU has the power to determine the prerequisites for legal immigration (entering a country, residence in a country, family reunification). The Member States have the right to decide how many third-country citizens (citizens of non-EU countries) are allowed access to their territory to look for work. EU’s obligation is to prevent and diminish illegal immigration especially by implementing an effective return policy that respects basic rights (readmission agreements).

In addition to immigration, the EU also has a shared system for the treatment of asylum seekers and for processing asylum applications. The EU asylum rules are currently being reformed.

The Finnish Public Services Unions’ International Network FIPSU has created ethical principles for the recruitment of foreign employees. Read them here!