Social Platform concerned by member states’ general attitude to social questions

Published on 27 July 2018, Agence Europe

Brussels, 26/07/2018 (Agence Europe)- On Tuesday 24 July, Jana Hainsworth, the President of the Social Platform, a European network of around 50 NGOs that support a more social Europe, drew up a rather unenthusiastic report on the informal social affairs meeting that took place in Vienna last week. The report highlights the fact that the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU and member states appeared disinclined to develop the EU’s social dimension.

In her summary of the informal meeting held on 17 and 18 July last, the President reports that “The backdrop to the meeting is an Austrian Presidency reluctant to drive a more social agenda for Europe”. The meeting focused on the impact of digitalisation and robotisation on the economy and working conditions (see EUROPE 12065).

Ms Hainsworth points out that the member states were not very forthcoming on the question either and emphasised that that the talks did not produce any particular European legislative proposal, despite the European Commission having mentioned the recommendations to improve access to social protection. In this regard, she said that she had expressed her regret about the lack of a binding legislative text. During the working breakfast on the first day focusing on the European Social Fund+, several member states are reported to have highlighted the need for “budget tightening” and removing any ring-fencing of resources in favour of tackling poverty and social exclusion as included in the European Commission proposal (see EUROPE 12030) in the interest of flexibility and more member state autonomy in deciding the priorities, much to the disappointment of the Social Platform organisation.

On the question of the digital platforms, the President notes a “more upbeat” tone than that of civil society with regard to the future. She also highlighted the fact that there seemed little overall appetite for more EU level regulation.

Nonetheless, according to a document and information obtained by EUROPE, during a vote by the delegations on a questionnaire from the Austrian Presidency, 66% of the delegation said that they would be in favour of European legislative action (see EUROPE 12068). (Original version in French by Pascal Hansens)