This is yet another important step forward in making the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality on the ground, and only days after its proclamation by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission at the Social Summit in Gothenburg.
Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: "The new world of work gives rise to new opportunities. People should be able to seize them and feel protected no matter what type of job they are in. This is the rationale behind the Pillar of Social Rights. We want to ensure our social protection systems are sustainable, adequate and fair. We are now consulting social partners on ways for everybody to contribute and build up rights."
Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, added: "This Commission is firmly delivering to make Europe more social. Today, we are moving forward with another concrete initiative under the European Pillar of Social Rights. In the new world of work all workers need to have access to social protection, whether they are employed with standard contracts, new types of contracts or self-employed. I want to make sure that everybody who works is covered by social protection schemes, on the basis of their contributions. This is important to make sure our social protection systems are adequate, sustainable and in respect of intergenerational fairness."
In 2016, just below 40% of employed people in the EU were in non-standard employment or self-employed, half of whom are at risk of not having sufficient access to social protection and related employment services, according to estimates. In today's changing labour market, new forms of work are emerging and people change more frequently between jobs and employment statuses. The share of non-standard employment and self-employment is increasing in the labour market, especially among young people.
In line with the relevant principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Commission aims to support access to social protection on the basis of contributions to all people. Due to their employment status, persons such as those in non-standard employment and self-employment have insufficient access and are, as a consequence, exposed to higher economic uncertainty and lower protection against social risks. Addressing this challenge harnesses the aim behind the Pillar to make our social models future-proof and to address intergenerational fairness, making the most of the future world of work.
To achieve this goal, and in line with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Commission's commitment to social dialogue, the Commission is asking the opinion of the social partners by launching the second stage of the social partner consultation. The social partners now have 7 weeks to let the Commission know if they are willing to negotiate. In parallel, a wider public consultation is also open to collect the views of all relevant stakeholders such as public authorities, companies, the self-employed, platform workers and the civil society.
Drawing on the conclusions of these consultations, the Commission intends to present a proposal in the first half of next year.
The Commission presented the European Pillar of Social Rights as a Commission Recommendation, which became effective as of 26 April 2017, and as a proposal for a joint proclamation by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission. The text of the proclamation was signed by all parties at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth on 17 November 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden, following discussions between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Member States.
The implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights is a shared responsibility at all levels. Since the start of its mandate, the Commission has presented several legislative proposals to implement the Pillar at EU level, including recently a proposal to improve the work-life balance of working parents and carers. The Commission also launched two social partner consultations – one to modernise the rules on labour contracts, and another one on access to social protection for all. From 26 April to 23 June 2017, social partners had the occasion to express their views on both topics. A second stage on modernising the rules on labour contracts was open from 21 September 2017 until 3 November 2017.
Today, the second stage of the consultation on access to social protection has started. It builds upon the outcome of the first phase of the discussions. In parallel, the Commission is launching a public consultation and will organise hearings with key stakeholders, such as representatives of the self-employed, civil society and social protection providers.
The Juncker Commission has made a priority of building a fairer and more social Europe, as reflected in its Political Guidelines of July 2014. In September 2015, on the occasion of President Juncker's first State of the Union, the President said: “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.”
In his most recent State of the Union address, on 13 September 2017, the President confirmed the Commission's commitment to move forward with the Pillar as an essential means to create a deeper, fairer and more social internal market: "If we want to avoid social fragmentation and social dumping in Europe, then Member States should agree on the European Pillar of Social Rights as soon as possible and at the latest at the Gothenburg summit in November. National social systems will still remain diverse and separate for a long time. But at the very least, we should work for a European Social Standards Union in which we have a common understanding of what is socially fair. Europe cannot work if it shuns workers."
For more information
Follow Vice-President Dombrovskis on Twitter
 Commission Staff Working Document: 'Analytical document' accompanying the Consultation document: 'Second phase Consultation of Social Partners under Article 154 TFEU on a possible action addressing the challenges of access to social protection for people in all forms of employment in the framework of the European Pillar of Social Rights'.