Open Letter to EU Heads of State and Government, and Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs
Implement the European Pillar of Social Rights to reconnect with citizens
Brussels, 5th of December 2018
One year ago, EU leaders gathered in Gothenburg to proclaim the joint ambition of all Member States to work towards a more inclusive, fair and social Europe and to adopt European measures to strengthen people’s rights. The Proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar) by all EU Institutions constituted a very positive signal to regain the trust of European citizens.
Now, very important legislative procedures in the social field, proposed with the objective to implement the Social Pillar, are still under negotiations. The decisions that will be made in the coming days will determine whether Europeans can count on their governments acting jointly at European Union level to protect their social rights.
Despite growth and employment picking up, the progress is not equally shared and trust in the EU is a matter of concern, which is especially concerning ahead of the next European elections in May 2019. Indeed, the countdown to the elections has started and it will be important to ensure that actions speak louder than words by ambitiously implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights to reconnect with citizens.
Ahead of this week’s meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health, and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council configuration, we call upon national governments to make the necessary decisions to improve the working and living conditions of Europeans.
In particular, we call for the adoption of a strong work-life balance directive, which truly supports parents and carers to reconcile their care and work duties, ensuring ambitious minimum standards on parental, paternity as well as carer’s leave and supporting flexible working arrangements for parents and carers. Furthermore, we ask for the adoption and subsequent implementation of an ambitious Council recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed, working towards strong minimum standards that will truly secure people’s rights to adequate social protection.
To foster social fairness, resilience and a more inclusive Union, the Social Pillar needs to be adequately funded in the next EU Budget (see Social Platform MFF 2021-2027 position paper here). This requires an ambitious ESF+ programme to support full inclusion and equal opportunities for all. For this reason, we call for a minimum earmarking of 30% ESF+ resources to be dedicated to social inclusion measures, with an additional 4% to tackle material deprivation.
The Autumn package of the 2019 European Semester process makes more mention of important social policy reforms, which is a positive development. However, an imbalance between macroeconomic and social priorities in the European Semester process persists. We call on governments to be ambitious in their social policy reforms, investing in people and their countries’ future. The Annual Growth Survey contains a welcome reference to broader engagement with civil society, but a stronger commitment from the EU institutions is needed to put a structured and meaningful civil dialogue in practice.
In the coming days, the decisions that will be taken on legislative files as well as the debates regarding the European Semester will confirm if the EU truly works to secure people’s rights. This is a necessary step to bring positive change to the lives of millions and it is the best way to reconcile citizens with Europe.
Communications & Campaign Coordinator, Social Platform
Tel. +32 (0) 2 508 16 37