Social Platform Co-hosts Virtual Event on the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan

On 18 November 2020, Social Platform co-hosted – together with Ms Katrin Langensiepen, Member of the European Parliament – a virtual event entitled “A Social Europe for all with all. Developing an Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights”.

The objective of the event was to discuss with institutional speakers and participants how the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan must be designed to fulfil its potential to contribute to Europe’s social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With over 115 participants from civil society organisations, EU institutions and other stakeholders in attendance, Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights gave the keynote speech at this event via video message. He underlined his commitment to the European Pillar of Social Rights and its Action Plan to promote a fair and inclusive recovery by raising social standards, including there, where they have been too low even before the crisis, with a special focus on those left behind. He also underlined that the Action Plan cannot be about half measures and that the COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more urgent than before. Finally, he pointed out the importance of strongly involving civil society organisations in policy-making related to the Action Plan.

Social Platform’s Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Laura de Bonfils then showed Social Platform’s video on the European Pillar of Social Rights and presented Social Platform’s key messages on the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan. Invited panellists from the European Parliament and the German and Portuguese Council Presidencies then reacted to the presentation.

MEP Katrin Langensiepen, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance & Greens/EFA Co-Coordinator for of the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL committee) highlighted several thematic priorities for the Greens–European Free Alliance and pointed out the lack of strong EU anti-discrimination law, especially due to the block of the horizonal anti-discrimination directive in Council for over 10 years.

MEP Dennis Radtke, Group of the European People’s Party (EPP) & EPP co-coordinator of the EMPL committee highlighted his belief that the Action Plan will receive a lot of support from the committee. He also pointed out some key aspects of the proposed directive on adequate minimum wages, including the importance of strengthening social bargaining.

MEP Agnes Jongerius, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) & S&D Coordinator of the EMPL committee underlined several thematic priorities of her group, including decent wages, proper housing and fight against child poverty. She also highlighted the importance of delivering on the Action Plan by ensuring concrete targets.

Dr. Carsten Stender, Director-General for European and International Employment and Social Policy, ESF of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs highlighted the importance of exchanging with civil society organisations, especially in the context of strengthening Europe’s social dimension in the current pandemic. He also supported Social Platform’s demands of combining legally binding legislation with soft-law coordination through the European Semester and EU funds.

Ms Deolinda Correia, Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security of Portugal described the fight against COVID-19 as the biggest challenge in the history of the EU and underlined that the European Pillar of Social Rights must be at the centre of the EU’S recovery. She also highlighted several thematic priorities of the upcoming Portuguese presidency, including the proposal on adequate minimum wages, the Child Guarantee, preventing and combatting homelessness as well as the upcoming Social summit that will take place during the Presidency.

Following these interventions, participants asked various questions, including on the role of the European Semester process, how to ensure that it and the Action Plan will work in synergy with thematic strategies for key population groups to leave no one behind in the recovery, etc.

Social Platform will continue advocating for a comprehensive European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan and once published, will work to support its full implementation.