EUROMIL, the European Organisation of Military Associations and Trade Unions, is the voice of European soldiers on an international level. Its core mission is to promote the professional and social interests as well as the fundamental rights and freedoms of European soldiers.
Originally founded in 1972, the Organisation includes more than 20 countries from Romania in the East to Ireland in the West, and from Sweden in the North to Cyprus in the South; EUROMIL is a truly European organisation.
It is the main Europe-wide forum for cooperation among professional military associations on issues of common concern.
Through the international secretariat in Brussels, EUROMIL facilitates the exchange of information, experiences and best practice among member associations.
The organisation, moreover, strives to secure and advance the human rights, fundamental freedoms and socio-professional interests of military personnel of all ranks by monitoring and advocating on the European level.
EUROMIL promotes the concept of “Citizen in Uniform”. As such, a soldier is entitled to the same rights and obligations as any other citizen. It particularly calls for recognition of the right of servicemen and -women to form and join trade unions and independent associations and for their inclusion in a regular social dialogue by the authorities.
Funded exclusively by membership fees, EUROMIL keeps to strict non-denominational and politically independent policies.
Military associations entirely respect and abide by the chain of command, and neither condone or support insubordination and mutiny. Associations do not intend to comment on strategic or operational matters.
The Board conducts the business of EUROMIL, prepares the meetings of the General Assembly and implements its resolutions. The Board has the responsibility to manage the budget. In addition, it shall perform representative functions, coordinate the activity of the advisory bodies (ad-hoc committees, lead associations, partnerships) and shall be responsible for recruiting new member associations, cooperating with the national associations and supporting them.
The Brussels Office is responsible for the implementation of the decisions of the Board and for the coordination of the work and co-operation between the EUROMIL bodies and the member associations. The Brussels office is the central contact partner for the member associations and partner organisations. The Brussels office guarantees the day-to-day business and the internal and external communication of the organisation.
Governments and society owe a duty of care towards their military personnel. Soldiers are called upon to make sacrifices, risking health and life in the service of the nation and the international community. Servicemen and -women deserve in return fair treatment, respect and to be valued as fellow citizens.
The fact that some men and women have chosen to serve their country by wearing a uniform does not negate their fundamental rights.
Therefore, EUROMIL strives to secure and advance the human rights, fundamental freedoms and socio-professional interests of soldiers at European level.
• equal rights and treatment of soldiers;
• the right of servicemen and -women to form and join trade unions and independent staff associations and that these are included in a regular social dialogue by the authorities;
• inclusion of military personnel into EU social and labour legislation.
EUROMIL requires of governments to lift all existing restrictions rights of soldiers which are not an inevitably and proportionate result from the military assignment.
It is, however, the task of military associations as representatives of soldiers to ensure that social and operational standards are set as high as possible.
In times of increased operational pace but declining defence budgets, military associations strive to make sure that soldiers will never be deployed to perform operations for which they are neither equipped nor trained.
Financial limitations on defence budgets are no excuse to deploy soldiers on international missions without best possible equipment and preparation.
Therefore, EUROMIL recommends:
1. That political mandates best reflect the reality of the theatre and the mission, that the number and effect of national caveats are minimised, and forces operate according to common rules of engagement.
2. That adequate pre-deployment training – including the use of identical types of combat gear, equipment and systems as in the mission area – is provided to enhance the skills, effectiveness and safety of the individual soldier and the unit.
3. That appropriate instruction is provided on international law, language skills and cultural awareness during pre-mission training.
4. That combined pre-deployment training of multinational troops occurs in order to optimise the co-operation and interaction of different national contingents in theatre.
5. That priority is given to the provision of appropriate personal combat equipment and to ensuring that the standard of armour protection of vehicles is commensurate with the mission, and that logistic supply structures are effective and appropriate.
6. That the families of soldiers are automatically involved in all support and adaptation programmes in each deployment stage.
7. That appropriate physical and psychological medical care is ensured during military operations.
8. That long-term medical surveillance and treatment of returning soldiers and veterans is guaranteed through military medical facilities and/or the civilian health care system. PTSD should be recognised as an occupational sickness of peace-keeping veterans.
9. That vocational and retraining schemes are established which facilitate the employment of veterans in the public administration or civilian labour market.
10. That employment and training schemes are established which permit seriously injured veterans to be employed by the public/military administration or civilian labour market.
The seven goals of EUROMIL are laid down in § 2 of its statute:
A well-structured social dialogue currently takes place in some European countries. This is the case for instance in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
The right of association is a fundamental requirement / prerequisite for the establishment of social dialogue. Without professional associations or unions representation of professional and social interests of employees is impossible.
Soldiers are highly skilled employees who have the same legitimacy to promote their social and professional interests as other employees do.
The rapidly advancing technical development of armed forces and increasing sophistication of modern weapon systems set growing educational and training demands on the soldiers of today. European soldiers are also expected to serve in increasingly challenging crisis management operations. This demands from all ranks (officers, non-commissioned officers and privates) language skills, cultural awareness as well as capacity for independent situational judgement and constructive interaction with civilian actors. Besides traditional fighting skills, soldiers are expected to function as mediators and even social and development aid workers with highest moral integrity and sensibility. To put it short: military people are more educated and specialised than many of our fellow citizens are aware of. And educated, highly specialised experts tend to demand a say in their employment conditions.
First, professional military associations and trade unions provide a realistic view and high value information about personnel and material problems in the armed forces – information that normally would not easily reach the military leadership through the hierarchical structure. This gives the leadership valuable insight, and also benefits the political decision-makers by helping to give them a realistic picture of the state of the national defence forces.
Secondly, staff associations lobby for adequate working conditions. This helps to ensure that governments and the military leadership have the means to recruit motivated and qualified staff in direct competition with the civilian labour market. A military career is nowadays becoming indistinguishable from alternative, and more traditional, lines of employment.
Thirdly, most European armed forces are currently undergoing significant transformations. Trade unions are able to encourage co-operation with the authorities and mediate to make transformations the least harming and socially acceptable by supporting affected soldiers.
Despite these clear advantages to the political and military leadership, some European countries still significantly restrict the coalition and collective bargaining rights of their military personnel. In these countries the associations representing military personnel are still struggling for recognition.