Social Platform calls for a new growth model for the future of work

On 9 April, Social Platform Vice-President Catherine Naughton spoke at the high-level conference “The Future of Work: Today. Tomorrow. For All”, hosted by the European Commission. Around 500 participants, including ministers, national government representatives, EU institutions and agencies, academia, social partners and civil society discussed how to best ensure that workers, businesses, society and the economy benefit from ongoing and future changes in the world of work.

With the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in November 2017, the EU established 20 principles to ensure fairer and better functioning labour markets and welfare systems in Europe. Ever since, work has been ongoing to ensure its implementation at EU and national level.

Ms Naughton spoke during the afternoon panel, which aimed at providing perspectives from the social partners and civil society. In her presentation, she highlighted that ongoing trends, such as population ageing, globalisation and digitalisation are leading to growing inequalities in Europe. Therefore, it is crucial to limit the negative consequences and grasp the benefits of these trends. This will require a paradigm shift towards a more inclusive and sustainable model of growth, which creates quality and sustainable employment, reduces socioeconomic inequalities, and supports the inclusion of all people in all areas of life. To achieve this, it is key to ensure rights-based social standards, including:

  • Quality and sustainable employment, which involves fair remuneration and adequate minimum wages, social security and protection rights at adequate levels, arrangements to ensure work-life balance, and investment in training and lifelong learning.
  • Income support, the adequacy, coverage and take-up of which is ensured throughout the entire life cycle for the working and non-working population.
  • Universal, rights-based, non-discriminatory access to quality, affordable and accessible services.

In addition, Ms Naughton emphasised the need to better invest in social policies and to embed social public investment as a priority in our policy-making. Social investments strengthen the economy, make our societies more resilient and will have a positive preventative impact on people’s health and wellbeing, ensuring long-term savings for public budgets in a time of demographic change. However, there has been a general tendency to weaken social and employment protection in recent years. She also pointed out that we need better EU and national fiscal frameworks that incentivise social investment, for example by allowing budgetary flexibility for this kind of public social investment in the framework of the stability and growth pact. Additionally, she highlighted that Member States need to commit to this paradigm shift, including by reforming their tax system to tax the huge amount of wealth that currently escapes taxation to increase revenues to finance the public social investment needed.

She finished by making several recommendations on how to make this paradigm shift a reality through action at EU and national level by committing to ambitious implementation of all principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights through various means:

  • More and more ambitious legislation in this field that is properly implemented.
  • A continued strengthening of the social dimension of the European Semester process and improved implementation rates of country-specific recommendations.
  • Proper investment in people, both at EU and national level, including through an EU budget (multi-annual financial framework) that shifts the balance towards people-centred policies.
  • Improved civil society involvement and consultation in these fields to become a more open, transparent and regular dialogue, as stipulated in article 11 of the Treaty on the European Union.

Read more in our position paper, ‘Building Social Europe: A comprehensive implementation plan for an effective European Pillar of Social Rights‘.