What would Europe for the common good look like?
This week is politically essential for us – on 30 September the College of Commissioners will discuss what a new European social agenda should look like in practice. After having seen the debate postponed twice already, I will be impatient to hear what will come out of the discussions and will focus my attention on concrete decisions taken by the Commission. I will certainly have a more detailed understanding on 1 October when, together with other NGO representatives, I will meet with Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility to discuss how to make Europe worthy of a social ‘triple A’ status. I am committed to bringing concrete, pragmatic and result-oriented propositions to the debate, but I too often feel that the Commission views social policy as a variable to be adjusted to economic policy. But what if economic policy was to be adjusted to social policy?
There has been some serious thinking done about this. Thanks to our member Volonteurope, I invite you to look at the common good matrix proposed by the Economy for the Common Good network. How do you think the company you are working for is performing on these criteria? Would you give a negative grade to your company if it has unequal pay for women and men, excessive income inequality within its business, job cuts or moving jobs overseas despite having made a profit, or if it violates International Labour Organisation norms? Would you favour low income disparity within your company? Would you eliminate unpaid overtime?
This kind of matrix has the power to make me feel uneasy about the EU’s current social policy. The European Union has everything in its treaties (the social clause for example) to enact a strong social agenda. I expect the conclusions of Wednesday’s debate to lead to a strong social agenda in the EU, providing the foundations on which we can build an economy for the common good.
Pierre Baussand, Director