The European Commission recently published a working paper, concluding that refugees, even if well qualified, still face obstacles in accessing the European labour market, for instance legal obstacles, low acceptance of qualifications acquired abroad, or discrimination. The working paper highlights the impact of education for increasing refugees’ chances on the labour market – however, the impact remains low when compared to native-born people. It is concluded that strong language skills are key for accessing the labour market.

On 22 May 2017, the European Commission published, as part of the 2017 cycle of the European Semester, its Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs). Addressed to the governments of each European Member State[1], the CSRs are the culmination point of the European Semester, as they express the voice of the European Commission regarding its assessment of Member States’ need for reform in order to ensure stability and growth and to reach the Europe 2020 strategy targets. The CSRs are to be endorsed by the European Council in June, and formally adopted by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council configuration in July.

ETUCE is committed to strengthen the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people. In particular, ETUCE combats homophobia and transphobia in the education sector; that is at school, in education institutions and universities, and supports its member organisation in their activities in this field. As an education trade union organisation, ETUCE focuses on supporting teachers and education staff. In this respect, ETUCE adopted the ´Joint Declaration to combat homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, in workplaces and in society´ together with ETUC and ILGA-EUROPE.

On 3-5 May 2017 the 2nd joined ITUC/ETUC mission to Ankara took place. Jaap Wienen, ITUC Deputy General secretary, and Luca Visentini, ETUC General Secretary, led the delegation joined by the ETUC President, representatives from two national confederations – the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and the British Trade Union Congress (TUC) - ; the European Trade union Committee for Education (ETUCE), the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), UNI Global and IndustriAll Global.

Mesut Firat, Eğitim Sen General Secretary, once again urged the Turkish government to give in to the legitim demand of the union’s affiliates, Nuriye Gülmen, dismissed academic, and Semih Özakça, dismissed primary school teacher, who have been on hunger strike for an indefinite period of time since 9 March 2017. With this radical initiative, education workers wished to strengthen their demand to be reinstated in their duties. Today, as stated by Eğitim Sen, their health situation is extremely critical.

On 8 May 2017, the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE) Capacity building project III was successfully kicked off with a first round table meeting in Porto, Portugal. Representatives of all three ETUCE member organisation in Portugal (FNE – project partner and main event organiser, FENPROF, SINDEP) gathered around a table with a delegation from education employer organisations composed by AEEP (Association of Private and Cooperative Education Establishments) and  ANESPO (National Association of VET Schools).