‘Social’ in the spotlight

It’s a busy time for social rights advocates – for the first time since the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in 2017, the EU is holding a Social Summit. Hosted by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Summit, in theory, “is aimed at setting the European agenda for the next decade and ensuring that we face the challenges of the present and of the future leaving no one behind”. In practice, the Social Summit should be the moment that Member States formally get behind the Social Pillar Action Plan published last month by stating their commitment to the Social Summit Declaration, a high-level political document that is to be endorsed by the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Portuguese Presidency on behalf of the Council of the EU. Other relevant stakeholders, including Social Platform, have also been invited to support the Declaration.

There has been a flurry of activity, in the past month especially, in the build up to the Social Summit. For my part, I participated in the ‘2030 Porto Agenda for Sustainable Wellbeing’ conference hosted by the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament on 21 April. The conference resulted in the release of a declaration calling on EU and national decision-makers to launch a “renewed focus on Europe’s integrated social, environmental and economic project, as established in the Treaties.” Read more about my participation in the event here.

For me, the conference provided a great opportunity to listen to various stakeholders, from decision-makers to social partners to civil society actors, to gauge their priorities ahead of our fourth annual ‘Building Social Europe’ Flagship Conference, taking place next week on 4-5 May. Our Flagship Conference – an official side event of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU – will focus on the different ways that the EU should lead its COVID-19 social and economic recovery process, with the Social Pillar and its Action Plan as a central theme. Find out more about the Flagship Conference and register here, but be quick – registration closes on 3 May at 12:00 CEST!

One of the key outcomes of our Flagship Conference will be policy recommendations on quality employment, skills and lifelong learning, social protection, and the social economy, which will be presented to EU and national decision-makers on 7 May when I am invited to speak on behalf of social civil society at the EU Social Summit. This will be the moment to really remind decision-makers that the policies made around meeting tables in Brussels – or these days, in virtual meeting after virtual meeting – have a real, lasting impact on people on the ground, including people in vulnerable situations. Every day that we wait to set ambitious, enforceable and measurable targets on all 20 principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights is another day that these most basic of rights aren’t available to all people across the EU. It’s time for an end to business – and politics – as usual.

I hope to welcome many of you to our Flagship Conference on 4 and 5 May, and those of you who wish to follow along with what’s happening at the conference and the EU Social Summit can keep an eye on our Twitter account and hashtag #BuildingSocialEurope.

Best wishes,

Piotr Sadowski, President of Social Platform