On the 11th September, the EUD participated in the public hearing organised by the European Economic Social Committee on the impact of the social dimension and the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) on the Future of the European Union. During the two panel discussions, it was highlighted that it is essential to ensure that the European Pillar of Social Rights is not just a statement of principles or good intentions, but actually strengthens social rights by means of concrete and specific tools (legislation, policy-making mechanisms and financial instruments) so that it has a positive impact on people’s lives in the short and medium term and supports European integration.
Frank Vandenbroucke, Professor at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Antwerp emphasied that the European Pillar of Social Rights is an important initiative, which has to be reflected in the legislative instruments, policy coordination, and financial instruments. The professor emphasized that EU must be a ‘holding environment’ for national welfare states and enable them to address inequalities (in the framework of the work towards achieving a ‘European Social Union’). In order to reach this objective, the EU needs non-discriminatory free movement of workers and posting of workers, upward convergence in social standards and performance (e.g. access to social protection for all workers, quality of unemployment insurance, universality of minimum wage regimes) and more investment in human capital.
In the second panel, the speakers debated which policy areas the European Pillar of Social Rights deals with. It was concluded that the EPSR must deliver a positive project for all, with policies that promote the employment, social progress and productivity, as drivers of sustainable growth, and of national social protection systems. Furthermore, it was emphasized that the improved working conditions and better social protection need to be key priorities for the European Pillar of Social Rights, in order to ensure that it is fair and inclusive, and brings social progress.
In the upcoming months, the EUD will examine the links of the European Pillar of Social Rights to other EU’s strategies and initiatives such as European Disability Strategy and Agenda 2030. We will follow up on and advocate for a strong revision of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems, which is one of the legislative instruments that serves as an operational agenda for the European Pillar of Social Rights, and which holds the potential to improve, among other things, the coordination of disability benefits for economically active citizens with a disability who want to work in another European country.