The EESC has consistently advocated upward convergence and a more effective social policy at both EU and Member State levels. The effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) reaffirms the shared commitment to the European Social Model.
When taking action to implement the EPSR, the targets and principles of the Treaties, the distribution of competences between EU Institutions and Member States, and, where appropriate, the non-regression clause, must be respected in a balanced way.
The EPSR is currently being implemented through legislative and non-legislative measures, through specific funding and through changes in the Semester process. European legislation in appropriate areas should set a framework with general common standards, respecting the specific national situations and social systems.
It is particularly important to establish basic standards for reliable and effective social protection systems and services of general interest.
The implementation of the EPSR requires a robust budgetary base and investment at EU and Member State level, which requires proper funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds and a "golden rule" for public investment with a social objective.
A new European Semester process should achieve social objectives in the framework of a social imbalance monitoring, and new, measurable indicators should be introduced, together with targeted social Country Specific Recommendations.
Regular monitoring of the implementation of the EPSR, with a binding consultation of social stakeholders, should be promoted. For this, the EESC proposes the establishment of a EU Social Policy Forum linked to the Semester process.
The EESC calls once again for a clear and coordinated roadmap setting priorities for the implementation of the Pillar and the enforcement of existing social rights and standards. Fundamental rights, especially of vulnerable groups, should be addressed as a priority.