In the Genesis we read ‘And when God finished his work on the sixth day, on which he had been working, he rested on the seventh day after his whole effort which he had undertaken’. In our calendar the seventh day of the week is Sunday, and for the Christians it is a holy day, that is a day-off from work. However, it is not respected or regulated both in the Polish and EU legislation. In the end of January in the European Parliament in Brussels, there was the Second European Conference on the protection of Sunday, which is a day-off from work, and on decent work in the European Union, organized among the others by the German MP Thomas Mann from CDU. This initiative was joined by many groups, first of all, the European Sunday Alliance. The purpose is statutory guaranteeing of work-free Sundays in all EU countries. The first step in this direction is going to be amendment of the EU directive about the time of work in which there is a literal writing ‘about work-free Sunday in the whole European Union’. All MPs of the European Parliament received a declaration form of supporting this initiative before the elections for the European Parliament in 2014. On the one hand initiators want to find out on whom they can rely in the future cadence of the Parliament, and, on the other hand, they want to present electors the supporters of work-free Sunday, supporting them during elections. During the mentioned conference, participants were emphasizing that Sunday is the European good of culture and prohibition of trade on Sunday will not bring significant economic changes in particular EU countries. There were discussions about the problem of discriminating people forced to work on Sunday, mainly in large-area shops. According to data of the European Commission, over 27% of all employed in the European Union work at least on one Sunday in a month and 8 %, that is, nearly 18 million people work every Sunday. Many European countries has prohibited or restricted trade on Sunday. For example, in Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Germany trade on Sunday is prohibited except for a few Sundays in a year. In some EU countries decisions about trade on Sunday belong to regional authorities. The main argument of opponents of work-free Sunday is their fear about the unemployment increase after introducing suggested changes. Supporters of work-free Sunday answer that the result will be opposite because instead of doing shopping on Sunday, people will use the active form of leisure time. As a result, many new workplaces will be created in the sector connected with recreation. Shopping centres should not be touched by any disadvantage in the budget because, according to some predictions, the burden of Sunday shopping will be arranged onto Saturday and Monday, balancing the previous income. According to organizers of the mentioned conference in the European Parliament, the initiative of work-free Sunday in the European Union was supported by one third of all deputies and over seventy European organizations and churches. In Poland, the Polish Trade Union ‘Solidarity’ is fighting for work-free Sunday, whose representative was participating in the conference in Brussels. On the same day in Warsaw the government of Donald Tusk took a negative attitude towards work-free Sundays in Poland. It was a response to the Polish parliamentarian Act project about the prohibition of trade on Sunday. Moreover, the parallel civilian project was rejected which had been signed by over 100 thousand people and submitted by the Committee of Statutory Initiative ‘Work-free Sunday’. Paradoxically, the refusal of Tusk converged with the European-wide initiative at that time, in which politicians of party of the Chancellor Angela Merkel are engaged, and who create a coalition in the European Parliament together with MPs of the Civil Platform party. The prime minister Tusk is listening to the voice of Mrs. Chancellor and does not oppose to her guidelines. So, it is possible that he will change his attitude soon. Initiators of the European-wide action for the sake of work-free Sundays predict that it may finish successfully not only because of emerging cultural or religious arguments, but mainly for health reasons. For, they think that only the last argument may convince the European Commission to amend the provisions. It must be reminded all the time that the European Union has Christian roots but for us, the Catholics, the Decalogue is important, as well as its third commandment ‘Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day’.


"Niedziela" 6/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: