By the EESC Employers' Group

At the EESC's June Plenary session, the Employers' Group put forward a counter-opinion to strongly voice its concern about adding a Social Progress Protocol that would fundamentally change the nature and functioning of the EU social market economy.

The ETUC proposal for a Social Progress Protocol would introduce the primacy of social, labour and trade union rights not only in their interaction with economic freedoms, but also in relation to the internal market, competition and any other policy measures of the Union, including areas such as economic governance, trade, digitalisation and the environment.

"Giving a general priority to social rights over economic freedoms would be as wrong as giving general priority to economic freedoms," said Stefano Mallia, President of the Employers' Group.

A Social Progress Protocol, would indeed call for a Treaty change, putting an end to the existing balance between social rights and the four freedoms underpinning the internal market - a balance currently ensured by several provisions of the Treaties.

"Rather than the EU coming up with a Social Progress Protocol which would distort the balance between economic freedoms and social rights, and interfere with well-defined EU and national competences, it is important to progress towards a shared understanding of what constitutes the added value of EU, in terms of employment and social policies", said Mariya Mincheva, EESC Employers' Group member, who introduced the counter opinion.

The EESC Employers' Group counter-opinion, which has obtained 101 votes in favour, 133 against with 7 abstentions, is appended to the EESC opinion.

Opinion SOC/756 "Social Progress Protocol" (Counter-opinion attached): https://europa.eu/!jdMJ7Q

  • See also "EESC backs calls to prioritise fundamental social rights over economic freedoms under EU law" (above).