On 1 October, the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) was set to question Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner-designate for the ‘Jobs’ portfolio on his plans for the next five years. Although it is not apparent from the new title ‘Jobs’, in addition to employment, this portfolio also includes social affairs, inclusion and skills-development.
SOLIDAR welcomes the commitment in Ms Von der Leyen’s mission letter to Mr Schmit to continue the implementation of the 20 principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR). Ensuring a fair minimum wage for all workers in the EU brings the goal of decent work for all a step closer. Updating the skills agenda will not only help workers prepare for the challenges of the changing world of work, it is also an opportunity for citizens’ personal development.
However, SOLIDAR warns that this strong focus on work and skills should not take away momentum for boosting social investments and ensuring upward convergence between Member States in terms of social policy. Improving the adequacy and inclusivity of our social security systems will remain indispensable to ensure that no one is left behind. Developing a European Unemployment Benefit Reinsurance Scheme would be a key step in this direction. With the increasingly flexible nature of work, adequate and universal social protection is more important now than ever. At the same time, new forms of work, that often do not include traditional social security contributions, pose a threat to the financial sustainability of our social protection systems.
We count on Mr Schmit to reaffirm and strengthen the legal basis of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Introducing concrete measures to make the Pillar’s 20 principles an integral part of the European Semester must be a top priority for the next Commission. This should include committing to clearly defined targets and benchmarks for a social Europe.
We trust that the MEPs of the EMPL committee will question Mr Schmit on his plans for concrete measures to implement all 20 principles of the Pillar. Civil Society Organisations play an important role in supporting the implementation of the Social Pillar, including in lifelong learning, assistance for the homeless and long-term care. For this reason, it is of paramount importance to engage civil society in setting, implementing and evaluating policies and legislation. We are ready to continue our close cooperation with the Commission to strive for a more social Europe for all European citizens. We will continue to monitor the hearings and all developments associated with them.