Jutta Steinruck MEP, S&D Group Coordinator for the European Parliament's Committee of the Employment and Social Affairs, joined today PES Group members gathering at their Group meeting ahead of the CoR's plenary session for a debate on the European Commission's social package, with the European Pillar of Social Rights being the key component, presented on 26 April.
"We welcome that social rights are back on the EU's agenda. However, instead of being a 'Triple social A' as promised by European Commission President Juncker, the proposals turned out to be a rather disappointing declaration of principles. EU citizens deserve more than a non-binding social pillar, which is unable to tackle rising inequalities. Our Group in the European Parliament will continue to put pressure on national governments to foster upward convergence and to truly commit to the development of a comprehensive EU social policy agenda", stressed Steinruck.
She went on to emphasise: "We expect nothing less than concrete legislative measures that ensure decent working conditions and access to social protection, especially for young people. Likewise, we will keep on pushing for a European Child Guarantee so that children in the EU have the best possible prospects. Only by promoting concrete actions in the field of social policy will we facilitate people's life and help citizens regain trust in the European project".
The intervention was warmly welcomed by PES Group members and then followed a lively exchange of views. Commenting on the European Pillar, SEDEC Chair Yoomi Renström called for tangible measures aimed at ensuring that social rights take precedence over economic freedoms.
Heinz-Joachim Höfer (PES/Germany), rapporteur of the CoR's contribution to the European Commission consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights, underlined the need for closer cooperation between all levels of government, sectors and stakeholders, including a strong role for social partners. He also reminded that financing social policy is a major challenge for local and regional authorities, currently suffering from very low investment capacity.
Höfer will continue to closely cooperate on the topic with his counterpart in the European Parliament, Maria João Rodrigues MEP (S&D/Portugal), also in view of the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, foreseen at the EU Social Summit, which will take place in Göteborg (Sweden), on 17 November.