Responding to the European Commission’s public consultation on a first preliminary outline of a future European Pillar of Social Rights, the SEDEC commission adopted today by majority the draft opinion by Heinz-Joachim Höfer, Mayor of Altenkirchen (PES, Germany). The aim of the European Pillar will be to make an assessment of the present EU social acquis, consider new work patterns and set out some essential principles to support well-functioning and fair labour markets and welfare systems within the eurozone. This is the reason why the consultation is addressed to eurozone Member States, while others can contribute if they so wish.
“The debate on a future European Pillar of Social Rights is very timely because it comes after a long economic and financial crisis with disastrous social repercussions, which have put into question the credibility of the EU”, said the rapporteur in his introductory speech. He went on to insist that, in order for the EU to make sense to its citizens, economic governance must take full account of the social aspects. The draft opinion also underlines the need to consider the effects of digitalisation on work patterns and the emergence of new forms of work. It also underlines that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions and that local and regional disparities must be fully taken into account when implementing policies to address social challenges.
Fully endorsing the views of the PES CoR rapporteur, his counterpart in the European Parliament, Maria João Rodrigues MEP (S&D, Portugal), S&D Group Vice-President in charge of Economic and Social Policies, explained the necessity of a European Pillar of Social Rights against a backdrop of withering political support for the European project and the non respect of rights enshrined in the Treaties. She went on to argue that “quality social standards are an economic asset” and that “there is no antagonism between social performance and competitiveness”. She concluded by stressing: “There is no future of European Pillar if regions are not involved”.
The draft opinion, which received 85 amendments - in their overwhelming majority by CoR members from non-eurozone Member States - gave rise to a highly politicised debate, highlighting once again the deep divide between those members who argue for more Europe and those who vehemently oppose it. It will be presented for adoption at the CoR plenary of 12-13 October.