SPC & EMCO publish report on the Europe 2020 strategy containing an opinion by Social Platform

On the 6th of November 2019, the Social Protection Committee (SPC) and the Employment Committee (EMCO), two advisory policy committees to the Ministers in the Employment and Social Affairs Council (EPSCO), published a report assessing the Europe 2020 strategy. Social Platform contributed an opinion to this report that was published in an annex, together with opinions by the joint employers and the European Trade Union Confederation.

The report analyses the progress achieved in the area of employment and social affairs under the Europe 2020 strategy, looking particularly at the progress made against the headline targets for employment, poverty and social exclusion. It also highlights the lessons learned from its implementation. Furthermore, it contains an assessment of the impact of the work done by the SPC and the EMCO. Finally, it looks at the structural challenges for the next 10 years that need to be taken into consideration in discussions on a possible post-2020 strategy.

Social Platform was invited to contribute an opinion assessing the state of implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy. We wrote this opinion after consulting our member organisations for their input.

In our contribution, we first describe the following paradox we have seen in this decade: On the one hand, the EU committed to fighting poverty and social exclusion and promoting equality and solidarity in the Europe 2020 strategy. On the other hand, Member States put in place austerity policies to face the financial and economic crisis, as a result of which the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy have not been met and the social impact of the crisis remains. We then give an overview of the state of play regarding progress made towards the poverty and social exclusion targets as well as the employment targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. Furthermore, we make recommendations for the future, looking at the European Semester process as well as a future EU post-2020 strategy.

Regarding the European Semester process, the EU’s framework for the coordination of economic, fiscal and social policies across the European Union, we state the need to promote a better balance of and coherence between social and economic priorities. Indeed, otherwise, we risk social recommendations being side-lined and undermined by macroeconomic and fiscal ones.

Regarding a future EU post-2020 strategy, we highlight that it should foster inclusive and sustainable development through the implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Social Pillar. This requires greater effort to cooperate between different services within EU institutions and Member States’ governments. We also state that the future strategy should more consistently promote rights-based anti-poverty and social inclusion policies, providing several examples. We also look at the topic of targets indicators in a post-2020 strategy, which need to be better disaggregated, including by sex, age and disability as well as ideally disability types. Regarding the current poverty headline target, we point out that adding additional indicators is crucial to describe more accurately the situation of poverty and social exclusion in Europe. Finally, we underline that a post-2020 EU strategy should better emphasise the value of thorough and structured civil dialogue at national and EU levels, as much remains to be done to reinforce civil society’s participation, especially at national level and in all Member States.

The report containing our opinion is available for download here.