By the EESC's Workers Group

A Social Progress Protocol enshrined in EU fundamental law would meet workers' demands for robust social protection from Europe.

Decent wages and proper working conditions are a basic right for everyone. Securing this fundamental right is essential for society to progress. It is the cornerstone of a sound social market economy that seeks progress in economic and competitiveness gains while establishing social policies to secure social progress and democratic values. The two cannot be separated: this was one of the main concerns expressed by workers and citizens during the Conference on the Future of Europe.

When people hear about the single market, they ask how it will improve their everyday lives. They want robust social protection, a minimum income, stronger social dialogue and collective bargaining, equal opportunities in the job market - which includes putting an end to social dumping - fair tax policies, affordable housing and gender equality.

A social progress protocol would provide a tangible answer to those practical concerns, promoting and protecting the highest standards of social rights and preventing any backsliding or circumvention.

At a time when human rights, the rule of law and democracy are increasingly being challenged, the EU needs to reaffirm its commitment to these fundamental values by placing Social Europe at the heart of its ambitions. People need the assurance that their social rights will not be set aside in favour of economic and market dynamics, as was the case with the austerity measures taken in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

  • See also "EESC backs calls to prioritise fundamental social rights over economic freedoms under EU law" (above)