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High-level Conference on the European Pillar of Social Rights

On 15 -16th April 2024, a high-level conference on the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) took place in La Hulpe, Belgium, organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The main aim of this conference was for the EU institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs) and social partners to renew their commitment to the EPSR. The event concluded with the signing of – by EU institutions (Belgian Presidency, EU Parliament, and the EU Commission), the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), civil society representatives, social partners, and all EU Member States (bar Austria and Sweden) – the “La Hulpe Declaration”.  

The Declaration includes a commitment to introduce a revision of the EPSR Action Plan in 2025. Furthermore, the Declaration places importance on the involvement of civil society and social partners in the journey to achieving a true Social Europe, that leaves no one behind. Indeed, the latest Eurobarometer survey shows that 88% of respondents consider a social Europe important to them personally.  

Ms Heather Roy, President of the EU Social Platform made an excellent keynote speech. Ms Roy highlighted that the recent EU Barometer results did not reflect a positive picture of Europe’s social economy, and that the EU is leaving people behind. Indeed, there is a gap between EU policies and the lived reality of EU citizens. EUD has highlighted this policy gap in multiple of its publications. Moreover, Ms Roy emphasised the need for an intersectional approach to the revision of the EPSR Action Plan – which EUD fully supports.  

However, ff the EU truly wishes to achieve a Union of Equality, it must engage in meaningful consultation with CSOs, such as EUD, in order to understand the lived and intersecting experiences of its citizens in all their diversity. 

The conference was live streamed so that people could follow it online. This was welcomed as it signifies that the EU recognises the importance of transparency to its citizens on all political developments. However, there were frequent mentions from ministers of being a “Europe that cares” which aims to “leave no one behind”, whereas the conference itself excluded all deaf EU citizens as accessibility was not provided through the provision of International Sign interpretation. There were closed captions, however, as EUD has outlined on several occasions this does not allow for full accessibility of deaf people. If the EU wishes to leave no one behind, this includes its deaf citizens. 

All the publications from 2022 - 2026 are co-funded by and produced under the European Commission’s Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) Programme.

Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission’s CERV Programme. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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