European Pillar of Social Rights: ‘Social Triple A’ expectations met?

SOLIDAR welcomes that finally the proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights is on the table after a long year of consultations and discussions. From the very beginning SOLIDAR, trade unions and other Civil Society Organisations argued in favour of a pillar introducing a set of enforceable rights which could be implemented to achieve upward social convergence. However, the Pillar presented today rather looks like a nice set of rights, like a bouquet of flowers where you can pick the nicest one. On a positive note, we consider it to be a step in the right direction the fact that the social dimension and social progress have returned to the European agenda, as well as the fundamental question of inequality. For far too long time, the idea that there firstly should be an improvement of competitiveness and growth was dominant. This has led to more disparity in and between the Member States. For the sake of competitiveness and growth, Member States even ended up in competition with each other. The Pillar must ensure real progress with more than just recommendations to Member States. Twenty principles are nice and if enforceable, they would represent the necessary step to the so needed upward convergence.

The way the pillar is now presented contributes, if not amended, to more intergovernmental power instead of a community commitment method as it argues with subsidiarity and competences of the members states. The experience of the Open Method of Coordination has shown that best practice exchange and reporting mechanisms do not lead necessarily to social progress. Workers and citizens want more than intentions and promises. In times of increasing job insecurity and new forms of employment in the digital economy, decent work and social protection cannot solely remain a claim, the pillar must ensure to deliver to all European citizens and this means enforceable standards and rights. That implies that real labour law is tabled, like European Parliament Rapporteur Maria João Rodrigues claimed in the plenary debate today.

Social indicators are helpful when contributing to securing social standards. First steps are made by introducing the issue of work-life balance, child and youth guarantee as well as addressing the issue of homelessness.

Since the publication of the European Commission’s communication last year, SOLIDAR has been at the forefront to contribute to the process calling for the Pillar to ensure social safeguards for everyone living in the EU. The Pillar we had in mind, would focus on:

  • upward social-convergence across the whole EU;
  • that is should comprise updated labour and social standards;
  • that it should call for a re-evaluation of the national minimum income schemes;
  • that compulsory secondary education and  a skills guarantee should be ensured;
  • that is should ensure a Child Guarantee;
  • that the EU’s economic governance should be rebalanced with targets set according to the Europe 2020 strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • that the European Social Funds, the Youth Employment Initiative, the Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the Fund for European Aid to the most deprived should be strengthened;
  • and lastly, the need for adequate financing to ease economic adjustment processes.

The social partners will have their say and social NGOs will continue to argue for more than a set of principles. Progress is made, but needs to be enforced. This would be the best argument for workers and citizens to see that the EU is more than a market and competition.

Still a long way to go to reach a ‘Social Triple A’, better to ‘revoir la copie’.

 


Photo © European Union , 2017   /  Source: EC - Audiovisual Service   /   Photo: Mauro Bottaro

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