The European Pillar of Social Rights – evaluation of the initial implementation and recommendations for the future (own-initiative opinion) - Related Opinions
This additional opinion will complement and update the proposals made in the original 2020 Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS) opinion, adopted in February this year, produced under time pressure and before the COVID-19 outbreak so it could not take into account recent developments.
The Semester exercise will be geared towards exiting the current crisis and the opinion is necessary for the EESC to make related proposals. The additional opinion will be presented for the October 2020 Plenary, to provide a timely input to the Commission's preparation of the next ASGS expected again for November 2020. It will therefore target directly the next European Semester cycle at the right political and institutional moment.
This exploratory opinion was requested by the European Parliament with a view to a forthcoming Commission initiative on fair minimum wages. The question of Decent minimum wages across Europe is a complex and sensitive issue. It is important that any EU action is based on accurate analysis and understanding of the situation and sensitivities in the Member States and fully respects the social partners' role and autonomy, as well as the different industrial relations models.
In this opinion, the EESC notes that platforms have "a generally positive impact on the economy", contributing as much to job creation and innovation, flexibility and autonomy for workers, as to ensuring income for workers (often supplementary) and allowing vulnerable people to access employment. It also notes that there are risks that must not be underestimated: (i) for workers, the denial of basic rights, including the rights to organisation and collective bargaining; precariousness; low pay; the increasing intensity of work; the extreme fragmentation of work on a global scale; the non-affiliation of workers to social security schemes; and (ii) for society, the increased risk of competition based on undercutting social standards.
The EESC welcomes the approach taken by the annual growth strategy for 2020, based on the four key pillars that are the environment, productivity, stability and fairness and also welcomes the inclusion of the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It also welcomes the fact that social rights are highlighted in the 2020 growth strategy and hopes that special attention will be given to the gender issue. Long term investment in education, training and skills development and to boost research and innovation, with increased funds earmarked for them, is absolutely crucial and decisive for the EU competitiveness. The greatest priority of all is to restore sustainable growth, above all in the weakest countries and regions. Finally, the EESC agrees on the need to strengthen the stability and resilience of the financial system and tighten the rules governing the financial markets.
This additional opinion complements and updates the proposals made in the yearly EESC AGS opinion. The EESC welcomes country-specific recommendations focus on investment and underlines that special attention must be paid to productive investments and investment in social infrastructure to prioritise sustainable growth. Next year's cycle should contain more CSRs to combat the existential threat of climate change. Investment would also be needed to enable the implementation of the social pillar to prevent an increase of social, economic, and environmental inequality. Taxation should favour this type of investment.
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.