This opinion presents the EESC's contribution to the European Commission's strategy to promote decent work not only within the EU but throughout the world. Decent work is unfortunately beyond reach for millions of workers across the globe. The Committee welcomes the Commission's initiative to promote decent work in all sectors and fields on the local and national level, within the EU and beyond. The EESC underlines that the EU must use all its policies, both internal and external, to promote and ensure decent work worldwide.
Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States - Related Opinions
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The EESC considers that the proposed guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States are appropriate as they address the most urgent issues in the labour market. In current turbulent times, steps must be taken to strengthen both the role of the social partners and their involvement in designing and implementing employment, social and economic reforms and policies, including by building their capacity. As labour shortages are on the rise again, effective measures should be implemented in order to encourage the social partners to work on skills needs at national level, with action adapted to individual sectors and local situations. With fast technological change and the twin transition, the "lifespan" of previously acquired skills and competencies is getting ever shorter and lifelong acquisition of relevant skills and competencies is increasingly important for both workers and businesses. Labour mobility within the EU and legal labour migration should be encouraged.
This opinion, based on a referral by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, aims at presenting the key elements of sustainable quality work during and after recovery. The EESC considers quality of work as one of the fundamental components of quality of life. The principle of quality of work for quality of life must be followed, as this is a prerequisite for sustainable social development. The EESC therefore firmly believes that it should be given special attention in EU policies, as it must prevent the risks of inequality, poverty, social exclusion and unfair competition. The EESC notes that the Recovery and Resilience Facility does not directly address the components of quality work, and therefore calls on the Commission to supplement this part of the facility. Vulnerable groups, such as precarious and young workers, who have been hit hardest by the epidemic, should not be overlooked.
This opinion seeks to analyse the impact of the emergency measures aimed at limiting unemployment, supporting income and helping businesses, with a particular focus on the SURE instrument. The EESC considers SURE as a positive and innovative financial instrument which delivers on European solidarity to preserve jobs, provide income support to workers and support businesses, as well as a tool for integration and socio-economic resilience in the EU. It is proposed that a SURE observatory is set up for as long as the financial instrument is in operation, involving the social partners and other civil society organisations. The EESC also fully acknowledges the positive results of SURE highlighted in the Commission's report of March 2021 and endorses the proposal for its stabilisation in support of workers and businesses as a tool for the EU's integration and socio-economic resilience in times of crisis such as the current one.
In this opinion, the EESC underlines that the Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights should be based on concreteness and tangibility, with actions that are measurable and accompanied by monitoring frameworks jointly agreed among relevant stakeholders and encompassing the social, environmental, and economic criteria. The EESC acknowledges the diversity and the common basis of social models across the EU. Competitiveness and higher productivity based on skills and knowledge are a sound recipe for maintaining the well-being of European societies. The EESC further believes that greater efforts can be made at EU and Member State level in the area of combating poverty, in line with the first Sustainable Development Goal under the UN 2030 Agenda.
The pandemic expedited the shift to teleworking, and it became essential in tackling the health crisis. Lessons learned from the pandemic could lead to regulations in the EU and in the Member States be amended and new regulations created so as to promote the positive aspects of telework and protect the fundamental rights of workers. The Member States, with the involvement of the social partners, need to ensure that there is an appropriate national framework for teleworking, setting out the rules of play for companies and workers interested in adopting this form of work.
This additional opinion updates and complements the proposals made in the original ASGS opinion, adopted in February this year. The EESC welcomes the step forward towards embracing a more social, inclusive and sustainable economic model, particularly given the economic and social effects of COVID-19. To support the economic recovery and public investment, and in support of a digital and green transformation, the EESC believes that a revision of the Stability and Growth Pact, flexibility in state aid rules and a rethink of tax policy is necessary. Well-resourced public health measures and social security systems are likewise of vital importance. The EESC also welcomes the Commission's proposals for Next Generation EU and sees the ASGS as an opportunity for the EU to shift towards an economic model that gives equal weighing to both economic and social objectives.
This exploratory opinion was requested by the European Parliament with a view to a forthcoming Commission initiative on fair minimum wages. The question of Decent minimum wages across Europe is a complex and sensitive issue. It is important that any EU action is based on accurate analysis and understanding of the situation and sensitivities in the Member States and fully respects the social partners' role and autonomy, as well as the different industrial relations models.
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