Finally it seems that we will get the Proclamation of the Pillar of Social Rights at the Social Summit in Gothenburg. Even those who were against will try to be in the family photo, pretending to have been amongst its supporters, although certainly not for the same reasons. Nevertheless it shows that the process has started to move and the door towards social progress is opening. It will also be interesting to see which heads of State will be present and which ones will be absent. For those who are even thinking of not going to Gothenburg, like the head of the biggest EU Member State, the question of accountability together with political interpretation will be a consequence to be faced.
Once the Pillar has been proclaimed and the lights have been turned off after the last press conference, the practical work will begin: writing of the declaration, dissemination etc. We know these dossiers. We are prepared for those who preach financial orthodoxy to tell us that while all of this is a nice set of principles, it cannot be financed as it is too ambitious. Seriously! The orthodox approach of austerity and focusing on the black zero will certainly not offer any space for manoeuvre, but even in Germany this orthodoxy has opened a space of 26 billion euros which could be intelligently used for social investment and investment in fair future transitions. The money must not be used for tax relief which will only benefit the lives of the rich and not of the ordinary citizens.
The shortcut to facilitate and achieve the ambitions of the European Pillar of Social Rights lies in Barbados or the Cayman Islands*. 13.4m documents have been released and provide the proof that those who have a lot seem never to have enough. It may be human, but it is nevertheless unacceptable. Europe must finally play a more important role in reducing and avoiding tax evasion in and between the European Member States. There is no reason that the brands of modern capitalism like Apple, Nike, Starbucks, Amazon and the rest should not pay their taxes where they make their profits. How short-sighted and blind must some leaders of European Member States be to think that they, or the society they represent, benefit by allowing these European tax havens.
Let us use the debate for the implementation of the Pillar of Social Rights to further discuss the necessary choices on how to ensure the financial foundations for investments that actually are necessary.
We are going to Sweden and so we should sing our interpretation of the famous Abba song!
*) The latest news on the Paradise Papers can be found on the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Our partners at the Social Summit in Gothenburg
The S&D Group will be hosting another TOGETHER event on 16 November in Gothenburg to discuss Social Justice & Sustainable Growth. The programme and online registration can be found here.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) will host an event with trade union delegations taking part in an Extraordinary Tripartite Social Summit and the Social Summit. SOLIDAR Secretary General, Conny Reuter, will speak at their public event ‘Building a better Europe for working people - The Social Progress Protocol and the European Pillar of Social Rights’ that will take place on 16 November. More information on the ETUC’s events in Gothenburg can be found here.
The Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) has published a resolution titled ‘For more social rights in Europe’ in the framework of the European Pillar of Social Rights that will be proclaimed on 17 November in Gothenburg. In the resolution DGB leader Reiner Hoffmann says: "We urgently need to strengthen workers' rights in Europe again. It cannot be that competition law takes precedence over the fundamental social rights of workers in Europe. The upcoming Social Summit in Gothenburg is a first step - but for that the content has to become legally binding." You can read the full version here.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is organising a side event to the Social Summit in Gothenburg on 16 November 2017 to discuss the role of Social Economy in the future of work. More information can be found here.
On 16 November, against the background of the Social Summit taking place in Gothenburg, Sweden, Social Platform is organising a civil society exchange on ‘Our Europe: Civil society and the future of the EU’. The exchange will feature a panel of experts, including the Mayor of Gothenburg Ann-Sofie Hermansson and representatives from government, the EU institutions and civil society, and in a question-and-answer format will allow the audience to voice their thoughts, opinions and concerns about how we build Social Europe. Here you can find more information and the online registration.