In Luxembourg, EU Employment and Social Policy ministers agreed unanimously on the text of the Proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and gave the authorisation to sign it on behalf of the member states at the Gothenburg Summit.
The President of the Council, Jevgeni Ossinovski, Minister for Health and Labour of Estonia, said: “The ministers were unanimous in their support for the Social Pillar. We all recognise that in the face of globalisation, digitalisation and the changing nature of work, our social systems need to change but remain robust. The proclamation summarises what Europe believes in and what makes it unique: a continent of equality, fairness and support for the vulnerable.”
The Pillar is a political commitment and provides guidance to the member states and the EU institutions; it aims at strengthening the social acquis and delivering more effective rights to citizens. It focuses on employment and social aspects and at making the European social model fit for the challenges of the 21st century. The objective of the Pillar is to contribute to social progress by supporting fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems.
It sets out 20 principles and rights, divided into three categories:
- equal opportunities and access to the labour market
- dynamic labour markets and fair working conditions
- public support /social protection and inclusion.
The proclamation covers for instance policy domains such as housing, education, social and health care and employment.
The European Pillar of Social Rights will be proclaimed jointly by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. Since there is consensus between the three Institutions on the joint text, the proclamation will be signed by the three institutions during the Summit for fair jobs and growth in Gothenburg on 17 November.
The National Network for Children – Bulgaria supports Eurochild’s position which calls for defining a clear implementation plan that ensures longevity for the Social Pillar, places the social agenda within an overarching EU policy framework such as the Sustainable Development Goals and matches post-2020 funding to the Pillar.
The Eurochild’s position includes the following highlights:
- Principle 11 states: “Children have the right to protection from poverty. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the right to specific measures to enhance equal opportunities”
- Reference to national strategies on child participation to “promote awareness on how to involve children in all actions and decisions that concern them”.
- The Social Scoreboard includes the 2002 Barcelona target on children for children aged 0-3 in the benchmarking.
- Implementation and holding Member States to account
- The Pillar is only applicable to the Eurozone – Member States can join voluntarily.
- Not enough importance given to the role of civil society.
- No child rights based approach.
- Focus policies on the youngest in society
- Define a clear implementation plan that ensures longevity for the Social Pillar.
- Place the social agenda within an overarching European policy framework (SDGs)
- Match post-2020 funding to the Social Pillar (Multiannual Financial Framework)
- Empower and consult with children and civil society working with children
The National Network for Children is concerned that the Scoreboard to the Pillar is envisaged to be only applicable to the Eurozone and Members states can join voluntarily. We believe that the Social Pillar should be underpinned with the necessary financial instruments – especially in the next EU budget – and that the European Semester process should be used as a lever for social convergence, addressing imbalances and introducing obligaroty monitoring for all member states.