More Ambition Needed to Deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights

One year after the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, a key question remains: how to deliver on the promises made by Heads of State and Government at the Gothenburg Social Summit in November 2017?

During an interinstitutional conference organised by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on Monday, representatives of regions and cities stressed to the EU's Commissioner Marianne Thyssen that the EU's cohesion policy must continue to support the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights with the active involvement of local and regional authorities.

Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "The EU must always strive to empower its citizens by creating decent jobs and protecting health, ensuring no one is left behind. The European Pillar of Social Rights placed social protection and inclusion back at the heart of the EU's agenda but delivering it needs shared commitment across all levels of government. Now, more than ever, we need an ambitious EU budget with a strong cohesion policy after 2020. Regions and cities are ready to renew Europe but cutting or centralising EU funds – especially the European Social Fund – will hold back our ambition."

Heinz-Joachim Höfer (DE/PES), Mayor of Altenkirchen and CoR rapporteur on the European Pillar of Social Rights, said: "To make the principles of the Pillar a reality for all Europeans, we expect much more ambition and swift action from the European Commission. We are still waiting for a European strategy for affordable housing, a European anti-poverty plan to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and adequate measures to protect platform workers. It is even more worrying that the budget cuts foreseen for the 2021-2027 period, such as for the European Social Fund, will hinder the successful delivery of the Pillar particularly in laggard regions."

European Parliament rapporteur Maria João Rodrigues (PT/S&D) also stressed that "the next EU budget should deliver on the promises made in Gothenburg: to build a fairer Europe and strengthen the social dimension of the EU before the 2019 European elections. Local and regional authorities should be properly involved in the preparation and implementation of the next budget programmes. Their specific knowledge of regional and local needs makes them special partners for an efficient implementation of the Social Pillar."