The speech delivered by von der Leyen in the 2021 State of the Union Address has to be critically received, mainly for what it lacks in terms of ambition and clarity, despite naming virtually all the key challenges Europe faces.
According to the EESC, the Commission's Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights is both timely and necessary to thwart the threat of inequalities deepening across Europe in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Plenary debate on the EESC Resolution
Climate protection and the pandemic have placed the State and Governments in a strong position. The European Commission has received a mandate from the governments of all EU member states to achieve climate neutrality for Europe by 2050 with the Green Deal, and to successfully lead the economy out of the Covid-19 crisis. A dynamic change of course is necessary. To protect workers during this transformation process, their rights have to be highlighted and enshrined as a special pillar at EU level.
The European Economic and Social Committee backs up the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative of the European Commission. The initiative is aimed at promoting investment in the healthcare systems of the European Member States and other sectors of their economies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, the EU would mobilise cash reserves, i.e. unspent pre-financing for EU funds, and provide financial support.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) firmly believes that infringements of human rights can be better prevented when there is an internationally agreed binding standard implemented and protected by states. Therefore, in an opinion adopted at its December plenary session, the EESC supports the United Nations Human Rights Council initiative to adopt a binding UN treaty to regulate businesses activities, including sanctions in case of violation of international human rights law.
EESC debate takes stock and discusses steps to take
9 October 2019 – Helsinki – Extraordinary meeting of the Workers' Group
On 25 September 2019, the European Economic and Social Committee voted on the opinion SOC/614 – The European Pillar of Social Rights – evaluation of the initial implementation and recommendations for the future. The document was adopted with 117 votes for, 44 votes against and 3 abstentions. The majority of the Employers' Group members voted against the opinion as the document does not present the variety of views within the EESC in a balanced manner. That is also why the members of the Employers' Group tabled over 40 amendments to the opinion.
The EU should amplify the voice of those standing up for rights and freedoms and involve them more closely in its work to safeguard the rule of law