This additional opinion will complement and update the proposals made in the yearly EESC AGS opinion, produced under time pressure, to reinforce the Committee's impact throughout the entire annual semester cycle.
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- Opinion SOC/614
- The European Pillar of Social Rights – evaluation of the initial implementation and recommendations for the future (own-initiative opinion) - Related Opinions
The European Pillar of Social Rights – evaluation of the initial implementation and recommendations for the future (own-initiative opinion) - Related Opinions
This own-initiative opinion will focus on the interface and inter-linkages between the European semester and Cohesion policy under the new Multiannual Financial Framework with a view to developing policy proposals to improve sustainable growth performance. With the Europe 2020 Strategy coming to an end, these proposals can contribute to the preparation of a new European strategy post-2020.
The EESC supports transparent and predictable working conditions for all workers, including in atypical employment, as a concrete step towards implementing the European Social Pillar. The definition of worker and employer should be clarified in the Commission's proposal and on-demand workers be guaranteed a minimum number of hours or pay. The EESC finds the provisions relating to minimum requirements relating to working conditions acceptable, but recommends clarification of certain aspects, recommending a strong role for social dialogue and that responsibility be left up to the national level.
Making a reality of the European Pillar of Social Rights (the "Social Pillar") will require improvements in Member States and a robust budgetary base, investment and current spending.
More public investment within Member States can be facilitated by reference to a Golden Rule for public investment with a social objective, which would allow more flexibility in budget rules with a view to achieving the aims of the European Pillar of Social Rights. More public investment can also be supported by the use of existing EU instruments, especially the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs), and by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). This support should explicitly include objectives linked to the Social Pillar.
Appropriate taxation policies, including effective fight against tax fraud, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning, should allow Member States and the EU to raise additional means to contribute to the financing of the Social Pillar.
In this opinion, the EESC notes that a substantial part of the population is still neither working nor included in unemployment statistics, yet carries significant potential for employment and wealth creation. Therefore, it issues a series of concrete recommendations that you can read by clicking on the title of the opinion.
This opinion is on the revision of the Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States, which provide common priorities and targets for employment policies of the Member States.
The European Commission has proposed to amend the 2015 Guidelines, to align the text with the principles of the European pillar of social rights.
They are adopted in the context of the European Employment Strategy, and form, together with the Guidelines for the Economic Policies of the Member States and of the EU, the Integrated Guidelines.
Given the current and future threats to access social security faced by people in the new forms of work, the EESC recommends that the Member States and European courts regulate these new forms of employment. Member States should consider linking up the electronic systems of their health and pension insurance schemes with those of their tax administrations and making it mandatory that individuals generating professional income pay contributions. It should further be examined whether a part of the digitisation dividend could be used to ensure the sustainability of the social security systems.
Delivering on balanced economic growth and social progress should be the guiding principle for the debate on the social dimension of Europe. A clear road map for the implementation of European Pillar of Social Rights is advisable with clear assignment of tasks coupled with accountability. The social dimension debate is connected to the debate on deepening the EMU. Social policy has to be embedded in a different EU economic policy. A strong EU can shape globalisation and digitalisation to the benefit of all.
The EESC adopted this opinion after in-depth work carried out during the four meetings of the study group. The opinion also reflects the national debates with civil society organisations carried out in all Member States between 2 September and 2 November 2016. These discussions were coordinated by three members of the EESC ('trios') from the country concerned, often in cooperation with the European Commission (15 debates) or the national economic and social council (7 debates). Participants came from a wide range of employers' and trade union organisations and other civil society organisations, as well as, to a lesser extent, from the academic world. A total of 116 EESC members and nearly 1,800 representatives of civil society organisations participated in the 28 debates. The conclusions/recommendations of the national debates have been grouped in the opinion, while the reports on the national debates will be published separately.
The EESC sees the need to safeguard basic welfare provision by having common rules at EU level. The opinion sets out social policy principles which could provide a basis for the Commission's recommendations, especially in the context of the European Semester, the Europe 2020 strategy, the open method of coordination and the social impact assessment under Article 9 TFEU. Such principles should also provide the basis for a binding social protection floor and for the action and governance of the EU institutions themselves.