Largest EU alliance of social NGOs calls on decision-makers to put social rights at the heart of economic governance

Putting social rights at the heart of the European Union’s economic governance is key to ensure a sustainable Economic and Monetary Union, argued Jana Hainsworth, President of Social Platform at the European Commission conference ‘European Pillar of Social Rights – Going forward together’ [23 January].

Speaking in a workshop on the social dimension of the EMU alongside European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, responsible for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Ms Hainsworth called for the European Pillar of Social Rights to make it clear that the EU and its Member States are serious about reducing inequalities; but while welcoming the opportunity for discussion among stakeholders, she tentatively warned decision-makers that civil society support for the Pillar is dependent upon a move from rhetoric to concrete actions.

To demonstrate a real commitment to prioritising social policies on a par with economic ones, Ms Hainsworth promoted the concept of budgetary flexibility in the EU’s economic governance. This would provide an incentive to Member States to promote social investment, especially in areas that can produce both long-term economic and social returns, including early childhood education and care, primary and secondary education, training and active labour market policies, as well as affordable and social housing.

As the largest European civil society alliance fighting for social justice, Social Platform thanked the Commission for the invitation to speak on the workshop’s panel; however, it regrets that representations made to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in December 2016 for civil society to appear in the closing panel of the conference alongside representatives of the European institutions and the social partners were unsuccessful. If the Commission is serious about promoting the concept of ‘going forward together’ in its work on the Pillar and giving greater prominence to social rights, it must allow civil society to participate in designing EU policies and give organisations representing citizens more opportunities to be heard alongside those representing businesses and workers.

Ms Hainsworth said:

“European civil society brings together the collective views of groups whose voices are commonly unheard, putting us in a unique position to provide expertise to proposals like the Pillar. Unless the European institutions commit to involving civil society in decision-making processes is a meaningful way – not just consultation, but also policy design, implementation and monitoring – then EU policy-making will fail to engage with, and therefore help, the most vulnerable.”


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