Social Platform presents its key messages on the European Semester Autumn Package to the Social Protection Committee and Employment Committee

On 27 January, Social Platform spoke at a joint meeting of the Social Protection Committee (SPC) and the Employment Committee (EMCO), giving its views as well as the views of several of its members on the 2020 Autumn Package. The Autumn Package outlines the European Commission’s social and economic priorities and guidelines for the following year in the framework of the European Semester, the EU’s main socio-economic governance tool. Social Platform was accompanied by a delegation of two of its members, the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) and Eurochild who presented their views as well.

First, we followed a Q&A session between the SPC and EMCO on the EU’s social priorities, published by the European Commission mid-January in its communication “A strong social Europe for just transitions”. Then, we listened to an exchange of views with the European social partners – bodies representing the two sides of industry: the employers and the employees – on the 2020 Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS) and the proposal for a Joint Employment Report.

Next, Social Platform presented its views, focusing on the ASGS. Heather Roy, Social Platform Treasurer, first addressed the transitions Europe will need to face to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050. She highlighted that not only do we need to pay particular attention to the regions, industries and workers who will have to make the largest transitions to achieve this goal, as highlighted by the ASGS; we also need to pay attention to the most disadvantaged groups of people who have already been left behind or are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and will be especially vulnerable to the changes needed to achieve this transition.

Secondly, Ms Roy pointed out that it is currently not clear how the Sustainable Development Goals will be mainstreamed, linked to the European Pillar of Social Rights:

“We miss a coherent social and sustainable long-term strategy that integrates the different proposed initiatives: the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a European Green Deal that is truly inclusive and the European Pillar of Social Rights and its action plan. This strategy also needs targets that build on the Europe 2020 strategy and that are taken seriously.”

Social Platform’s key overarching statements are available here.

Next, we presented input from some of our member organisations: the European Disability Forum, Eurocarers, the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, the European Network of Social Integration Enterprises (ENSIE) and Make Mothers Matter. Our members’ input is available here.

EAPN pointed out in their presentation that fairness is not the adequate word to talk about inequality and poverty in Europe, referring to the ASGS section on fairness. Criticising that the ASGS does not mention poverty or social exclusion once, they underlined that there is a need to talk about the structural changes and investments we need to improve our welfare systems. Read EAPN’s new position on the 2020 Autumn Package, on which their presentation is based.

Eurochild also advocated in their presentation for a comprehensive overarching strategy that should contain a target to reduce poverty, including child poverty, by half in 2030, considering that almost one-in-four children in Europe are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, with even higher risks for some groups of children. Eurochild’s position on the European Semester is available here.

Next steps

The European Council is invited to endorse the sustainable growth strategy. At the end of February, the Commission will then publish Country Reports on the overall economic and social developments in each EU country. These documents form the winter package.

Find out more about the European Semester process on our website.