Building Social Europe through the European Pillar of Social Rights

Article published in the first edition of the bi-annual EUROSHIP project newsletter, July 2020.

The European Pillar of Social Rights (the Social Pillar) is an initiative proclaimed by the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission in 2017. The Social Pillar commits EU leaders to deliver new and improve existing social rights for people across Europe, and serves as the EU’s compass to achieve better working and living conditions in Europe.

It consists of 20 principles to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems, divided into three chapters:

  • Equal opportunities and access to the labour market
  • Fair working conditions
  • Social protection and inclusion

The full list of principles is available here.

With the COVID-19 pandemic having far-reaching social and economic repercussions across the EU, fully implementing the Social Pillar’s principles has never been more important. Only an ambitious community response with a clear focus on protecting the most vulnerable and recognising the need to strengthen social protection systems will suffice for our collective recovery. Read more in our COVID-19 statement, and learn about the real life impact the Social Pillar can have and the need for its meaningful implementation here.

Making sure that the Social Pillar’s goals become reality is a shared responsibility between the EU institutions and EU Member States. Together, they monitor how the principles are put into practice through the ‘Social Scoreboard’ – a tool that tracks trends and performances in different thematic areas across EU countries.

The Social Pillar’s principles impact the lives of all people living and working in the EU, including those in vulnerable situations. Social Platform’s members recognise the Social Pillar’s great potential, and are advocating for a comprehensive implementation approach encompassing four areas: policy and legislation, good governance, investing in people, and civil dialogue.

Social Pillar Action Plan

In January 2020, the Commission published its communication “A Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions” that paved the way for an Action Plan to implement the Social Pillar. It also launched the public consultation “Have your say on reinforcing Social Europe”, which aims to prepare the ground for the Social Pillar’s Action Plan, allowing all interested stakeholders to present their views on new policy actions or legal initiatives needed at different levels (EU, national, regional, local). The public consultation will be open for input until the end of November. The Action Plan will then be published early in 2021.

Social Platform follows and actively engages in discussions at EU level about the implementation of the Social Pillar in general and the development of the EU Action Plan, as well as its content in particular. Indeed, in collaboration with our member organisations, we are preparing an extensive paper that will serve as our input to the public consultation. Once finalised, this paper will be published in the framework of a social media campaign around the third anniversary of the Social Pillar, highlighting key results of our analysis. Following the launch of this publication, we will continue engaging with key stakeholders in the EU institutions, including Commissioner Schmit, to ensure that the Action Plan contains the right objectives to ensure full and ambitious implementation of all Social Pillar principles, and contributes to Europe’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis by building a more resilient and socially just Europe.