At the request of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the EESC is drawing up this opinion to suggest recommendations on how to tackle inequalities, foster upwards social convergence and strengthen social security systems and ensure its long-term affordability, in an EU economic governance framework/European Semester defined around debt sustainability, productive investments and reforms. This opinion is also focusing on the implications of such a framework for the European Semester, and the further strengthening of the social pillar herein. Finally, the opinion also looks at ways of continuing to further develop fiscal instruments that have a stabilising role at the European level, based e.g. on the experience of SURE.
The opinion examines the possible introduction of a new concept into EU law: "low-profit". This concept would define all organisations that are likely to make a profit but that do not intend to distribute it to their owners or shareholders, as they have a different purpose.
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.
The EESC has asked the forthcoming Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU to push forward with the proposal to make the Social Progress Protocol a binding legal instrument, which would help strengthen and preserve social rights in Europe
15 June 2023 - The Employers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee today pushed through a counter-opinion to strongly voice its concern about adding a Social Progress Protocol that would fundamentally change the nature and functioning of the EU social market economy.
The EESC describes the Commission's proposals for strengthening social dialogue in Member States and the EU as both timely and necessary, but calls for additional steps. Action is needed on improving national consultations with the social partners, national and European collective bargaining coverage and the implementation of social partner agreements
The Social Progress Protocol, proposed during the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), gives precedence to social, workers' and trade union rights when they are in conflict with economic freedoms. However, while everyone agreed that social rights and economic freedoms can co-exist, support for making the protocol primary EU law is far from unanimous, with diverging views among the social partners and in the academic community, an EESC hearing confirmed
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) calls on the EU and Member States to implement more concrete measures to support the health, housing and financial needs of the growing number people taking on long-term caregiving responsibilities of a family member.