European Pillar of Social Rights must be supported by a strong cohesion policy

Civis Mundi Digitaal #52

The establishment of a European Pillar of Social Rights should promote a sustainable and inclusive Europe, boost the fight against social and regional inequalities and contribute to the creation of a social market economy, the European Committee of the Regions argues in an opinion adopted at its plenary session on Wednesday.


The European Pillar of Social Rights, which has been proposed by the European Commission, is built on 20 principles with the aim of ensuring equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. In the opinion drafted by Mauro D’Attis (IT/EPP), the European Committee of the Regions points out that economic, social and territorial cohesion policy must play a key role in supporting the gradual implementation of a European social agenda where competitiveness and social justice complement each other. Particular emphasis should be on guaranteeing better future for the youth.


"In view of the rise in youth unemployment and the growing number of people in or at risk of poverty in recent years, the European Pillar of Social Rights must serve to make Europe more cohesive and more responsive to the social dimension of citizens’ needs. This is a shared commitment and responsibility between the Union, its Member States, local and regional authorities and the social partners. Cohesion policy, as the EU’s main long-term investment policy, must contribute to these objectives as an expression of European solidarity", rapporteur D’Attis said, echoing the call of #CohesionAlliance which was launched on Monday.


Maria João Rodrigues, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-President of the S&D Group and EP Rapporteur for the European Pillar of Social Rights, stated: "I count on the regions to be at the forefront of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights since regions are the ones responding to citizens’ everyday problems by providing employment services, access to social protection, healthcare and long term care."


Ensuring wages that avoid in-work-poverty, provide for a decent standard of living and are in line with productivity are among the Committee´s recommendations, although Member States’ respective practices and legislation must be respected. The opinion also endorses the Italian government’s proposal for a European unemployment insurance scheme and points out that the European Union and the Member States must work together to secure the financial resources necessary for the implementation of the Pillar of Social Rights.


The Commission and the Council are urged to introduce incentivising measures for countries that implement reforms geared towards achieving the Europe 2020 social objectives and combating social imbalances. Furthermore, appropriate set of tools should be introduced to measure and monitor the progress made, as well as to evaluate subnational disparities. The opinion also calls for greater focus on integrating refugees, unaccompanied minors and legally residing migrants effectively, including through education and vocational training.


"We now expect the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament to include our proposals in the proclamation of Gothenburg", rapporteur D’Attis said, referring to the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg on 17 November where the European Committee of the Regions has been invited to participate alongside other EU institutions, heads of state and government, social partners and civil society actors.