There will be no recovery without a social recovery

Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Social Summit in Porto

By the EESC Workers' Group

A webinar held by the EESC Workers' Group in January stressed the need for a new social contract to emerge from the forthcoming Porto Social Summit.

We are living through the worst health and economic crisis in the European Union’s history. However, while the pandemic has increased poverty, unemployment and inequality, these issues are far from new.

To discuss them, the EESC Workers’ Group held a webinar in late January with Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Ana Mendes Godinho, Portugal's minister for Employment, Solidarity and Social Security (replaced for health reasons by Secretary of State for Labour and Vocational Training Miguel Cabrita), Iratxe García Pérez, President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, and Oliver Röpke, President of the EESC Workers’ Group.

The speakers pointed out that the tools to assist where needed did exist and that it was necessary to make this happen. What was required, more than targets, was effective policies to make the European Pillar of Social Rights a tangible reality for citizens. The Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights must have short, medium- and long-term measures and legislative initiatives, as well as a sufficient budget.

It was argued that the Porto summit must be a real change of course, in the  knowledge that there would be no recovery without social recovery and no sustainability without social sustainability. The way to make this work was to involve civil society and social partners in the process, provide a real platform for the voice and participation of workers and enhance collective bargaining and collective agreements.

The Porto Agenda 2030 that comes out of the summit must, beyond COVID, cover and tackle structural issues related to globalisation, wealth redistribution, labour market protection, social investment, the social agenda in the Green New Deal and the European Semester and the end of austerity policies, among many other concerns. It should be the beginning of a new social contract, avoiding the temptation to go back to business as usual and signalling the kind of future we wanted to build. We must ensure, the speakers stressed, that the existing rules were applied and the necessary ones were in place, in the process bringing people and Member States together, with solidarity, equality and sustainability, to make a strong social investment in our future. (prp)