08/03/2016 – the European Commission launched a public consultation on a European Pillar of Social Rights. EAPN welcomes an approach that is rooted in a rights-based approach. EAPN hopes that it can be an important step towards rebalancing the European Union agenda and giving social considerations, including the fight against poverty and social exclusion, their due place in the European architecture.
EAPN particularly welcomes commitments on a wide number of key topics, grouped under three main headings: Equal opportunities and access to the labour market (education and training, security of contracts, supporting transitions, work-life balance, gender equality and equal opportunities), Fair working conditions (employment rights, wages, health and safety, social dialogue), and Adequate and sustainable social protection (social benefits – minimum income, unemployment, health and sickness, disability, pensions; services – care, child-, health- and long-term care, housing, transport, energy, financial, communications). EAPN will work closely with its members over the coming months to prepare a full response to the consultation and the initiative.
While EAPN welcomes that the time given for consultation should allow a meaningful engement, EAPN insists that we cannot wait for action to be taken to address the growing levels of poverty, exclusion and inequalities.
So the EU leaders and institutions must press ahead and ensure greater attention to the follow up of the adopted poverty reduction target as part of the present round of implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy and the associated European Semester process.
The initiative on a pillar of social rights was announced by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in September 2015, and it is part of a greater initiative to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and, implicitly, its social dimension, by ensuring upward social convergence between Member States. The public consultation will run till the end of 2016, and a White Paper, building on the results of the consultation, is expected in early 2017. While targeted at the Eurozone, all Member States are welcome to join the initiative.
The main aims of the consultation are:
- to assess the EU social aquis – to what extent are existing rights implemented.
- to reflect on new trends in work patterns and societies – in light of demographic trends, new technologies, and taking on board social innovation.
- to gather views and feedback on the outline of the Social Pillar itself – its scope, content, role as part of the social dimension of the EMU.