S+D Call for Action: Social Dimension of the EMU
The S+D group organized a hearing on proposals for the social dimension of the EMU. It built on the position of Pervenche Beres, chair of the Employment Committee, and included interventions from Commissioner Andor, Bernadette Segol, ETUC; the ILO and EESC, and other stakeholders including EAPN.
Commission Andor underlined that “there is growing concern about the major social problems in the EU, even the politicians and officials that promoted the current policies, are getting concerned. There is more openness and potential for new thinking – supporting coordination and convergence, recognizing the interdependence of economic, fiscal and social union”. He highlighted that the social dimension of the EMU is an economic as well as a political imperative, due to growing divergence and polarization between the North of Europe and the periphery, and the weakness of the EMU architecture. He emphasized that upward convergence of social standards is crucial for the legitimacy of the EU. However, the key tools proposed are very limited – the development of a new social and employment scoreboard (with key indicators), to ensure social impact, policy benchmarking through initiatives like the Youth Guarantee, social investment to mitigate social consequences and absorb asymmetric shocks, including the potential of an EMU unemployment benefit scheme. Social partners ( not civil society), were seen as key to the success of the strategy.
Highlighted that the ILO is not an NGO but a UN Agency, which is increasingly moving from research to action – eg in Greece and Cyprus. They have called on Van Romuy and the EU institutions not undermine labour standards, and avoid a permanent conflict with the UN. New tools like the scoreboard are vital, but the financial system must also be fixed, and social partners involved in the entire European Semester ( Guidelines, CSRs, and AGS). He emphasized the relevance of the ILO Social Protection Floor Agreement, which defends role as an automatic stabilizer, and incorporates a social investment approach. ‘’Adequate social protection must be based on rights, efficiency and effectiveness’’. The Troika MOUs were an ‘’attack on social rights’’, undermining 12 ILO/UN conventions.
Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN
The major lack is democratic deficit and civil engagement in this debate. Civil society must have a role, with an open debate on alternative solutions. Economic governance is undermining confidence in the EU project. There can be no more resorting to subsidiarity as excuses for lack of convergence on social standards, with the fiscal compact intervening directly to cut social budgets and attack welfare states. EAPN makes 5 proposals:
- Ambition vision: balanced economic and social vision, use Europe 2020 to shape objectives
- Scoreboard on social and employment indicators part of a better ex-ante policy coordination, carrying out effective social impact assessment.
- Pro-active measures to promote a high level of social standards – not just minimum – supporting the logic of the social protection floor, but progress on a framework directive on minimum income could be made now under current Treaty.
- Social Investment and Employment Pact
- Better Governance and participation – of Parliament and stakeholders – in the EMU, European Semester.
- Letter to EP President Martin Schulz
- Position ETUC in English and French
- Intervention by Jean Lapeyre
- Intervention by Bernadette Segol
- Opinion of the EESC For a social dimension of European Economic and Monetary Union: English – Italian – German
- Opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
To listen to the sound recording and see all relevant documents of the S&D Group conference: See on dropbox https://www.dropbox.com/l/l6sQIxoOT9hx3bYNuGZYWd