"Europe must not remain a continent of countries exploiting each other"
Why is the wage union important for Croatia and what challenges does the country face because of the wage inequalities in the EU? Talking to Alfahir.hu, Frano Čirko, the president of “GO! - the Generation of Renewal”, a Croatian patriotic youth party answered the questions on the European initiative and sent a message to the citizens of Eastern European regions and Western European states.
Did you expect the European Commission to register the initiative or were you surprised by the decision?
Quite honestly, we were not completely sure that our initiative would be registered because the European Commission has not been considered as the most reliable organization in that regard. However, our lawyers did an excellent job and did not let the matter be neglected.
Why is it important for Croatia that the initiative got the green light?
At present, Croatia’s biggest problem is that our youth emigrate to the West to get higher-income jobs. Our governments reigning since the country’s EU accession have been ignoring this phenomenon completely. Finally, we have a chance to put this matter on the agenda and conduct a debate about it so that we could draw the necessary conclusions.
As an initiator of the project, what kind of challenges do you face now?
As the Croatian representative of the initiative, GO! - the Generation of Renewal and I organize the collection of statements of support here, we introduce the wage union concept to the Croatian media and politicians, gather the support of NGOs, organize public forums, and so on.
How many statements of support do you need to collect exactly in Croatia? Do you think you can achieve this task in a year? When will you start collecting the signatures?
We need to collect at least 9000 statements of support, which should not be difficult in my opinion. We will launch the campaign in September and we aim to collect much more signatures than 9000.
What will be the biggest challenge for you and your party in collecting the statements of support?
The biggest obstacle might be if the media and the politicians refuse to deal with the initiative. If that happens, we will use other channels to communicate the wage union concept to the public, such as online and social media as well as guerilla campaigns.
What is the Croatian people’s take on the wage union initiative? How much interest have you experienced from NGOs and trade unions in terms of the wage union?
Croatian people, especially our youth, are highly interested in the wage union. They all see the wage gap within the EU and are aware that it is the main driver of this massive emigration wave from Croatia. That’s why I think the project could be highly successful here.
How did Croatian political parties and the government react to the EC’s decision?
The local political sphere has ignored the matter so far.
Telling made-up reasons or even straight lies, the Hungarian government attempts to block the initiative instead of supporting it. What is your message to those who hinder this project out of ignorance or political motivations?
If the wage union is not implemented, they will also lose their privileges and welfare sooner or later. So I think no well-meaning person can actually oppose the initiative.
The Hungarian government also keeps scaring its voters, saying that if the Wage Union is implemented, our homeland will be flooded by migrants. Do you think it’s a realistic evaluation of the situation?
This is total nonsense. Massive immigration depends on how much each country accepts it. According to the Hungarian government’s logic, poverty is a privilege.
Gábor Vona, the president of Jobbik, the organization that launched the initiative, said that the project and the inclusion of the “equal wages for equal work” principle in the EU Treaties could lay the foundations for a new Europe with more solidarity and social integrity. Do you think this initiative could really reform the European Union?
Yes, of course. The EU could be reformed based on the principle of “equal wages for equal work”, which then will obviously contribute to the birth of a better Europe. Naturally, this principle also means that Western European member states, especially Germany, will have to abandon the practice of exploiting Eastern European countries and using them as a source of young, cheap and well-trained labour force.
How do you see the cooperation of the initiators? Are they developing a common strategy to reach out to their citizens or each country is going to collect the signatures in its own way?
We have many similar ideas for collecting the statements of support but each country has its special problems and socio-political situation, so the campaign will be different in each case.
The EC’s positive decision allows you to collect statements of support from the entire EU territory. Are you planning to contact or perhaps even mobilize Western citizens? If so, how? Are there any organizations, political parties that are perhaps open to the idea and could actively help you collecting signatures there?
Yes, we mainly rely on Croatians living in western countries, especially those who have left in the past four years since Croatia’s EU accession, as their emigration was definitely driven by wage inequalities within the EU.
What is your message about the Wage Union to the citizens of the seven initiating member states and of the Western European countries?
I encourage the citizens of all Central European countries to support the wage union initiative. We must understand that this is the ultimate test of the EU to see if the leading member states truly care about our countries and truly have good intentions for us or they wish to continue using us as suppliers of young, cheap and well-trained labour force. If we can achieve a wage union, it will be a historical victory for our peoples. However, if the western member states reject the concept, it will be a clear sign for us what directions to take in the future. Regardless how it works out, all citizens should nonetheless support this initiative because it at least puts our most painful tragedies, i.e., poverty and emigration on the European agenda and seeks an uncompromising solution for them.
Furthermore, I am fully convinced that Western Europe is also interested in the success of this project since its underlying principle would be the token for peace and stability for the whole of Europe.
Europe must not remain a continent of countries exploiting each other. Instead, it should become a community of friendly nations and states that help each other’s growth.
Alfahír.hu - Jobbik.com