- agrees with the proposal in the final report of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE, May 2022) to add, with a view to advancing the social market economy, a social progress protocol (SPP) to the Treaties. This would help promote better guarantees ensuring that social rights are effectively protected in the event of conflict with economic freedoms and avoid any backsliding with respect to those rights to ensure social progress by ensuring the promotion and protection of the highest standards of social rights;
- encourages the Spanish Presidency to promote a Council of Social Affairs Ministers that would agree on a joint proposal and enable a specific EU summit to be held to adopt it. This issue calls for maximum institutional involvement across the various levels of EU competence;
- appreciates that, while the proposal from the CoFoE and the European Parliament would have to be introduced either in the form of a protocol (added to the TFEU) or in the form of a cross-cutting clause (reform of Article 9 TFEU), there are other policy instruments that could contribute to the aims of the SPP. The EESC considers the SPP to be essential in order to strengthen the autonomy of the social partners, linking, on the one hand, the proper functioning of the single market and economic freedoms, including fair competition between the Member States and, on the other hand, respect and promotion of collective social rights;
- is convinced a SPP will enable the EU to be a leader when it comes to economic growth, the well-being of its citizens, and robust and sustainable businesses. Economic freedoms in the single market should not mean prohibiting restrictions, but provide for equal treatment of economic operators as a means of ensuring fair competition and a level playing field;
- regrets that the EU has not yet acceded to the European Convention on Human Rights, and recommends that it accedes to the Council of Europe's European Social Charter, to promote a harmonious coexistence between EU law and Council of Europe law in the social sphere.