New socio-economic model needed to address COVID-19 impact, Social Platform warns EU Social Protection & Employment committees

On 15 May 2020, Social Platform spoke at a joint virtual meeting of the Social Protection Committee (SPC) and the Employment Committee (EMCO), two advisory policy committee to the Ministers in the Employment and Social Affairs Council (EPSCO), to share our views and those of several of our members on the social and employment impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her presentation, Kélig Puyet, Director of Social Platform, underlined the severity of the impact of the pandemic, highlighting that it brings various new challenges, coupled with old ones that are being exacerbated. Addressing them and tackling inequalities will require fundamental changes to our socio-economic system, with an emphasis on human rights and leaving no one behind. She said:

 “We must avoid repeating the same mistakes made in 2008, promoting austerity measures in a moment of crisis which is the time to invest in what keeps our societies together, including quality services and decent income for all. This is how to enable people to live in dignity.”

Ms Puyet welcomed the activation of the ‘escape clause’ of the Stability and Growth Pact, giving EU Member States greater freedom to increase expenditure to ensure the necessary level of investment to contain the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. At the same time, she highlighted the importance of this flexibility remaining possible in the long-term so that Member States can put in place effective social protection systems that should be the strong foundation upon which to build inclusive, sustainable and more resilient societies that can better face crises in the future.

She underscored that for all of this to happen, it is crucial that all the planned as well as new initiatives taken at EU level to ensure the EU’s recovery are coherently included in an ambitious and comprehensive post-2020 strategic framework. This framework must combine all these initiatives with measurable objectives and a variety of indicators, fostering inclusive and sustainable development, in line with the implementation of Agenda 2030 as well as the European Pillar of Social Rights. It should also emphasise the value of thorough and structured civil dialogue at national and EU level.

Ms Puyet then highlighted several areas for action where improvements to existing policies and practices can and must be taken: services, employment and income. Read more in Social Platform’s statement on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to presenting our messages, we disseminated key messages collected from several of our members to the members of the SPC and EMCO. They are available here. A list with hyperlinks to our members’ published statements on the COVID-19 pandemic is available on our website.