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Commission launches debate on EU’s social model

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights. The on-line consultation will run until the end of 2016 and aims at gathering views and feedback from other European institutions, national authorities and parliaments, social partners, stakeholders, civil society, experts from academia and citizens.

A first preliminary outline of the pillar was presented yesterday (8 March) and can be found here: Annex: A European Pillar of Social Rights – First preliminary outline.

The European Pillar of Social Rights will set out a number of essential principles to support well-functioning and fair labour markets and welfare systems within the euro area. According to the Commission, non-euro member states will be fully involved in the consultation process and can join the initiative if they wish to do so.

The initiative is focusing on the euro area because of past experience that has shown that economic and social imbalances in one or several Eurozone members may put at risk the performance of the Eurozone as a whole.

Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “Europe is still facing problems resulting from the financial and sovereign debt crisis: poverty, social exclusion, inequality and high unemployment. At the same time, we need to update the social agenda and our social acquis in the light of economic and social trends of 21st century.”

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, added: “The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the changing world of work. Globalisation, the digital revolution and new business models have an unprecedented impact on how we work. We need to be ready to anticipate and influence these trends and developments.”

After the consultation, a consolidated version of the Pillar is expected to be presented early in 2017.The Commission states that the Pillar should become a reference framework to screen employment and social performance of participating Member States and to drive reforms at national level. More specifically, it should also serve as a compass for renewed convergence within the euro area.

The European Pillar of Social Rights in a Nutshell

The Pillar should build on, and complement, the EU social   “acquis”, i.e. the body of social rules that exist in the EU legal order   today, such as rules on protection of workers’ health and safety, working   conditions and anti-discrimination.

The starting point of the Pillar is the social   objectives and rights inscribed in the EU primary law, consisting of the   Treaty on European Union (TEU), the Treaty on the Functioning of the European   Union (TFEU), the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the case-law of the Court   of Justice of the European Union.

To ensure a broad enough basis for consultation,   the Pillar touches both on areas where the EU is competent to legislate and   on others where member states are primarily responsible. The outline of the   Pillar does not re-state or modify existing rights, which remain valid.

Altogether 20 policy domains have been   identified to which different principles are attached. The policy domains are   grouped in three chapters: 1) Equal opportunities and access to the labour   market, 2) Fair working conditions and 3) Adequate and sustainable social   protection.

The Brussels Times