A Europe that Walks the Walk and Takes a Social Turn


16 Nov 2017


Social Europe & Jobs

Press release

Europe’s citizens are more and more often asking: What does the European Union do for me? This is a legitimate question which requires a clear and coherent answer. However, it is not only a matter of finding the right words. Europe’s citizens increasingly question institutions’ and the European Union’s ability to act in their interest. Our ambition is clear: a Europe we can be proud of is a Europe where everyone lives in dignity.

The European Pillar of Social Rights - a set of twenty principles - putting social concerns on the political agenda, is a step in the right direction and we support proclaiming the pillar as soon as possible and at the latest at the upcoming Social Summit in Gothenburg.

However, these principles cannot be an end in itself. We want to effectively strengthen our social model, reduce inequalities, guarantee high social standards and strong collective bargaining It is now crucial to go ahead. Failing to do so would be fatal, further eroding trust; once trust is lost it is very difficult to win it back.

This is why we urge the Commission and Member States to prepare steps now to put the pillar into action immediately after its proclamation. We call for a Social Action Plan, outlining clear measures and tools for each of the pillar’s twenty principles. A Social Action Plan that provides the means to deliver on the promises made.

A European Union that keeps its promises is a Europe Union where decent wages are paid to all. Current wage dumping and wage stagnation has to end. Several institutions, including the European Central Bank have called for this. Europe urgently needs a pay rise. This is why we call for a Social Action Plan that promotes collective bargaining at national sectoral level in all countries, and reinforces minimum wage systems where they exist, with minimum wages above the poverty threshold, at least at 60% of the national median wage. This is why we ask for a Social Action Plan that promotes targets to reduce the gender pay gap and unjustified wage discrimination, making sure that the Commission establishes these targets as part of the European Semester.

A Europe people can rely on is a Europe that guarantees a quality job to everyone. This means that decent working conditions are a reality for all workers, no matter what type of work contract they have. Therefore, we call for a Social Action Plan that includes a framework directive on decent working conditions for all forms of employment and maximum use of the reform of the written statement directive to combat precariousness. A Social Action Plan that addresses the changing world of work, giving workers the right to access social protection, transfer rights and benefits, promoting the right to disconnect. This is why, strengthening, re-establishing and enlarging collective bargaining and its coverage at all levels, including for non-standard work, must be part of a Social Action Plan. This is why a European Labour Authority must ensure an end to social dumping and that the rules for a fair labour mobility and for full equal treatment in the field of posting, are respected all across the EU.

A Europe that protects is a Europe that ensures just transition towards a low-carbon economy, that manages change and impact on employment and working conditions coming from digitalisation, automation, globalisation and international trade. A Europe that doesn’t leave anyone behind.

A Europe that keeps its word is a Europe that empowers everyone to be able to take up quality jobs, enabling its citizens to lead a fulfilling and promising life. This why a social plan that puts words into action has to include a well – funded Skills Guarantee, providing Europeans with the capabilities to adapt to fast changing labour markets. A Social Action Plan has to make the Youth Guarantee a permanent initiative, extending it to the age of 29, granting it the necessary funding of € 5 billion per year to guarantee its success.

We strongly believe that a European Union people can rely on is a European Union that fights any form of exploitation and social exclusion, putting an end to poverty, leaving no one behind. This is why a Social Action Plan needs to guarantee children in Europe free healthcare, free education, free child care, decent housing and adequate nutrition as part of a child guarantee. This is why we ask for a Social Action Plan that makes a social protection floor a reality for all Europeans, providing an effective social security net, which can be deployed in hard times.

A truly social Europe implies that the Commission and the Council put people first when taking economic decisions in the frame of the European Semester‘s economic coordination, acknowledging that social investment is a productive factor and that social protection systems make the economy more resilient. Progressive economic governance means that economic, employment and social policies in the EU are coordinated, following targets based on the European 2020 strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals.

It is essential that Europe’s institutions and decision makers show that they walk the walk and not only talk the talk, thereby regaining the needed trust to be able to start a true dialogue with Europe’s people about deepening the European Union.

The European Union we need is a European Union people can trust, a European Union people can rely on, a European Union people can be proud of.

Our message is clear: the Social Summit in Gothenburg needs to endorse the pillar’s twenty principles. Once this has been achieved, it will be high time to mark Europe’s social turn with more than principles, it will be time to deliver with a Social Action Plan.


Sergei Stanishev, President of the Party of European Socialists

Nicolas Schmit, minister for labour, employment & social economy, Luxembourg

Maria João Rodrigues MEP, vice-president of the S&D group in the European Parliament

Pervenche Berès MEP, chair of the PES social Europe network

Luca Visentini, general secretary of the ETUC