Following the adoption of the inter-institutional proclamation on the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) in Gothenburg last month, EAPN has written to Council President Donald Tusk ahead of the upcoming European Council meeting, which will adopt conclusions on social issues, as well as on education and culture. We urge him to work with Heads of State to ensure that these conclusions include:
1. Commitment to create a ‘Council Road Map’ to progressively implement the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) at the national level, and to meaningfully engage civil society organisations and experts with experience of poverty in the implementation. This road map should include the creation of adequately resourced and participative multi-stakeholder platforms at the national and EU level, to drive implementation and annual monitoring.
2. Recognition of the importance of Social Summits. We should not have to wait another 20 years for Heads of State to discuss social issues together – Social Summits should be organised at a minimum every three years, and civil society organisations and experts with experience of poverty must be meaningfully involved in these Summits.
3. Commitment to rebalance economic and social priorities through the European Semester, using the Social Pillar as a ‘compass’(1) to ensure social rights are prioritised. This will need an agreement that social spending is considered an investment, not a cost, so that Member States receive adequate fiscal space to guarantee social rights.
4. Strong support for the development of EU legislation to guarantee social rights, specifically the right to social protection for all, as initiated in the Commissions current consultation for EU action(2). The next steps should be an ambitious proposal for an EU framework to ensure an adequate minimum income for all(3).
5. Recognition of the need for the next Multiannual Financial Framework to allocate sufficient resources for effective delivery on the Europe 2020 target to reduce poverty by at least 20 million by 2020, the implementation of the EPSR and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Social Pillar sends a strong signal of the EU´s determination to deliver a Social Triple A, supporting upward economic and social convergence by building a European Social Standards Union as the basis for a more social, inclusive and sustainable Europe(4). However, the EU cannot be complacent. With poverty levels still at 118 million, nearly 1 in 4 of the population, still 700.000 more than when the Council agreed the Europe 2020 strategy target to reduce poverty by at least 20 million back in 2010. These unacceptable levels of poverty and inequality are key drivers of the current political climate of insecurity, populism and Euroscepticism. Urgent action to close the gap, based on social rights must be taken.
(1) Annual Growth Survey 2018 (22.11.2017)
(2) EC Consultation on possible EU 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
(3) See EMIN Road Map
(4) EC (13092017) State of the Union Address, Road Map and Letter of intent.