Commissioner Andor wants results of Social Scoreboard addressed through European Semester

On October 7, 2013, we had our annual meeting between László Andor, EU Commissioner for employment and social affairs, and members of Social Platform. At this occasion, we had the opportunity to discuss with him the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the new Social Scoreboard, as well as the next European Semester and Annual Growth Survey (AGS).

Commissioner Andor highlighted the increasing imbalances and divergences in the EU. These should be monitored and detected in time to prevent these from reappearing in the future. Looking at the social dimension of the EMU, it is important for him not to separate the EMU from other EU countries and to protect the EU and its coherence as a whole. The Communication of the Commission on the social dimension, that includes the proposal for a Scoreboard of social indicators, is a first step. What is needed now is to look into how to respond to the issues the Social Scoreboard will reveal. Good potential lies in following up on the results of the Scoreboard through its integration in the European Semester. This also includes formulating recommendations on how to use the EU financial instruments in a different way in the member states.

President of Social Platform Heather Roy agreed that the social dimension has to stay embedded in the EU as a whole. She pointed out how the Social Scoreboard is a good starting point, but it now has to be ensured that this initiative is not being watered down. A system should be urgently put in place that triggers preventative and corrective actions once the social indicators reach a certain value. An important question here is what will be the baseline for the social indicators: what values will be acceptable and what values will have to be reached to conclude that action must be taken? Furthermore, it is necessary to develop, as soon as possible, European Social Standards in view of organising upward social convergence and social progress. These social standards should be taken up in binding European legislation and member states that do not live up to these, should be held accountable.

Looking ahead to the AGS for 2013 that will be the starting point for the next European Semester, the Commissioner considers the main social topics addressed will be the Social Investment Package (SIP) and the Social Scoreboard. For the Commission it is important to look at how to achieve a more sustainable recovery from the crisis. The Commissioner also wants to find out the reasons for the increase in poverty migration in the last year and has the ambition to raise awareness on the existing and often deepening poverty in countries in the peripheral countries of the EU.

As Social Platform, we consider it good to have the Social Scoreboard embedded in the next AGS, but we also want to see the achievement of the Europe 2020 poverty, employment and education targets, on the top of the list of political priorities for the European Semester. Therefore, the AGS cannot just repeat what is said last year on social issues, but it has to go beyond with real recommendations, to be taken up by the National Reform Programmes and followed up by concrete Country Specific Recommendations.

On a final note, we recalled the importance of stakeholder involvement. Good governance of the EU as well as of the EMU as such, can only be effective if all relevant stakeholders, including civil society as well as social partners are fully involved. This is the only way to ensure a genuine EMU with a social dimension, which gets the support of people throughout the EU.

Our next annual meeting with the Commissioner for employment and social affairs will take place in 2014 after the European elections.

Read Social Platform's position on the Social Scoreboard in our letter to the EPSCO ministers of October 8.

Read Social Platform's full evaluation of the 2013 European Semester and proposals from 2014 onwards sent to the Commission on October 8.