Today, the European Commission presents a first, preliminary outline of the European Pillar of Social Rights announced by President Juncker in September last year and launches a broad public consultation to gather views and feedback from other European institutions, national authorities and parliaments, social partners, stakeholders, civil society, experts from academia and citizens. This initiative is targeted at the euro area, while allowing other EU Member States to join if they want to do so. The online consultation will run until the end of 2016.
Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis, said: "Europe is still facing problems resulting from the financial and sovereign debt crisis: poverty, social exclusion, inequality and high unemployment. At the same time, we need to update the social agenda and our social acquis in the light of economic and social trends of 21st century. This is a complex task and a broad consultation process is needed to guarantee that all views are taken into account. The Pillar of Social Rights is part of our work to strengthen Economic and Monetary Union and is envisaged for the euro area. However, we will make sure that non-euro Member States are fully involved in the consultation process and can join the initiative if they wish to do so."
Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the changing world of work. Globalisation, the digital revolution and new business models have an unprecedented impact on how we work. We need to be ready to anticipate and influence these trends and developments. We have to ask ourselves the basic questions: are our European Union and our Member State's social policies in the broad sense of the word fit for purpose for the 21st century? How can we make the European social model future-proof? With the consultation that we are launching today, we are setting the first step towards a European Pillar of Social Rights."
The European Pillar of Social Rights will set out a number of essential principles to support well-functioning and fair labour markets and welfare systems within the euro area.
The experience of the past decade and a half has shown that persisting imbalances in one or more Member States may put at risk the stability of the euro area as a whole. As called for by the Five Presidents Report on "Completing Europe's Economic and Monetary Union", a stronger focus on employment and social performance is needed as part of a broader process of upward convergence towards more resilient economic structures within the euro area.
The aim of the consultation launched today is to make an assessment of the present EU social "acquis", to reflect on new trends in work patterns and societies and to gather views and feedback on the principles identified in a preliminary outline of the Pillar. The results of the consultation will contribute to its final outline and help to identify the scope of future action where necessary. The consultation will run until 31 December 2016 and a consolidated version of the European Pillar of Social Rights should be presented early in 2017.
Once adopted, the Pillar should become a reference framework to screen employment and social performance of participating Member States and to drive reforms at national level. More specifically, it should also serve as a compass for renewed convergence within the euro area.
During his State of the Union speech on 9 September 2015, President Juncker announced the establishment of a European Pillar of Social Rights: "We have to step up the work for a fair and truly pan-European labour market. (…) As part of these efforts, I will want to develop a European pillar of social rights, which takes account of the changing realities of Europe’s societies and the world of work. And which can serve as a compass for the renewed convergence within the euro area. The European pillar of social rights should complement what we have already jointly achieved when it comes to the protection of workers in the EU. I will expect social partners to play a central role in this process. I believe we do well to start with this initiative within the euro area, while allowing other EU Member States to join in if they want to do so."
On 27 January 2016, the College of Commissioners held a first orientation debate on the Pillar. Following the debate, Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen gave a read-out, outlining the first broad lines of the European Pillar of Social Rights and conveying the intention to launch a broad consultation on the subject. The read-out of this College meeting can be found here.
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