13 July 2021 – At last week's July plenary of the European Economic and Social Committee, the Employers' Group expressed the view that whilst the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan should serve as a useful guidance for Member States and the Union in their efforts towards competitiveness, growth, employment, structural reforms, productive investments and well-being of people, any such action must be taken at the right level of competence.
As the EESC voted on the opinion on the EPSR action plan, the Employers' Group lodged a counter-opinion, which having collected more than a third of the votes, is appended to the EESC opinion.
"We are in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic-led crisis and whilst having a social dimension is very important, it must be based on a sound economic foundation. Any initiative or action must be taken at the right level, fully respecting the different competences, powers and clearly defined roles the EU, Member States and social partners have as regard to employment and social policy," said the Employers’ Group President, Stefano Mallia, calling for the “rigorous respect” of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, the different socio-economic environments and the diversity of national systems, including the role and autonomy of social partners in creating well-functioning labour markets.
"Labour markets developments must be supported and not hindered and over-regulated. Reforms cannot be one-size-fit-all and this is why the Employers’ Group believes that social policy must mainly remain the responsibility of member states," said Milena Angelova, president of study group on the opinion and former VP of the EESC.
The Employers' Group is convinced that the EESC opinion placed too many expectations on the action plan and therefore went beyond its scope.
The counter opinion presented by the Employers’ Group underlines the preference for non-binding instruments and proposes that monitoring of the EPSR action plan and the national reforms happens in the framework of the European Semester and the open method of coordination.
"Should the EU consider proposing new legislation, it should be based on evidence and subject to a targeted competitiveness check," added Christian Ardhe, EESC member from Sweden and member of the Study Group.
The President of the Employers’ Group concluded by thanking the genuine efforts of the 2 rapporteurs, Carlos Trindade and Cristian Pirvulescu to find common ground for compromises, however “at the end of the day we could not fully bridge the gap that existed in the text in terms of also presenting the views of employers”. Whilst expressing a sense of regret on this aspect, President Mallia was also of the view “that sometimes, on key issues we have to accept that there will be a difference of opinion between the different stakeholders that make up civil society”.
For more information: Daniela Vincenti, Employers' Group Communication advisor +32 497 412095