EESC opinion: The open method of coordination and the social clause in the context of Europe 2020

EESC opinion: The open method of coordination and the social clause in the context of Europe 2020

Key points

The EESC welcomes the Belgian Presidency's initiative to make use of the horizontal social clause and a reinforced Open Method of Coordination (OMC), as this highlights the fact that social cohesion must keep pace with reinforced economic policy coordination in order to achieve all of the targets contained in the Europe 2020 strategy.

Real participation by organised civil society at all stages and levels is essential to ensuring the effective use of the horizontal clause and the OMC. The EESC proposes that the Commission draw up an annual “governance report” on such participation. The EESC can assist in this task and also suggests that pilot projects for participation be funded under the PROGRESS programme. The Committee furthermore proposes a Code of good practice for participatory governance of the OMC.

The EESC underlines the strong need for a coordination process that incorporates the interplay between all targets and all policies. This should be the overarching guideline for implementing the social clause and the OMC. The Commission should spearhead this coordination, assisted by the Social Protection Committee and the Employment Committee. The two committees should open themselves up to representation from outside stakeholders.

Implementation of the horizontal social clause must be efficient. Social impact assessments should cover all ten integrated guidelines for employment and economic policies, be published and feed into the OMC process. The focus should be on the effects on employment, the number of people living in poverty and social risks.

The EESC supports a reinforced OMC, so that employment, social protection and social inclusion are not sidelined in the current crisis. The OMC should go more local, thereby also linking it to targeted actions carried out under the auspices of the European Social Fund. Peer reviews based on mutual learning should lead to national roadmaps for social cohesion. Indicators should also focus on qualitative welfare criteria. The EESC supports the European Platform against Poverty, but thinks that the OMC and the horizontal clause can also contribute to the development of other flagship initiatives.