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The European Pillar of Social Rights must be a shield to protect people against austerity


10 May 2023


Global Europe

Tomorrow, the European Parliament is set to adopt the roadmap towards a social Europe. Looking forward to endorsing this new plan – designed to strengthen our fight for a prosperous future – the Socialists and Democrats again underline that social rights must be granted the same priority status as economic and environmental goals.

In Gothenburg in 2017, our political family delivered the European Pillar of Social Rights. Four years later, the Porto Social Summit adopted an action plan with concrete commitments and targets. At the end of this month, we are meeting again in Porto to take further action. We are focusing on enhancing the pillar of social rights – so it can act as a strong shield to protect the health, safety and living conditions of people – as well as tackling the social impact of the Covid pandemic and Russia’s war against Ukraine.

We must build on the plan from Porto that defines three main social targets by 2030: minimum 78% employment rate in the EU, at least 60% of adults attending training courses every year, and reducing the number of people at risk of social exclusion or poverty by at least 15 million people, including 5 million children. This is not enough. We are calling for more targets, such as quality job creation, at least 80% collective bargaining coverage by 2030, zero deaths at work, and the eradication of homelessness by 2030.*

Agnes JongeriusEuropean Parliament’s co-rapporteur on the Roadmap towards a social Europe and S&D spokesperson for employment, said:

“Europe is more than market and currency; it is about people. We want a Europe where all workers earn a decent wage, all families can afford a place to live and no child grows up in poverty. The future of Europe will be social or there will be no more Europe as we know it and as we want it.

“The S&Ds have always been striving to ensure that the EU puts social issues among its top priorities. The much-needed digital and green transitions can only happen hand in hand with social progress. The long-awaited reform of EU fiscal rules can only be effective if it is anchored in social principles.“Europe is often seen as an economic project only, where only big corporations cash in on the benefits. This needs to change. We have to deliver on the social promises made in Gothenburg and Porto to guarantee that the EU is there for all Europeans. We must stop austerity at the expense of social rights. We must ensure that essential services – such as energy, water and public transport – are available to everyone. We need a social safety net for every European.

“Two years after the Porto social summit, we will meet again at a social forum in Porto at the end of May to strengthen our fight for social Europe. We call on the Commission, EU governments and all the political groups to join our fight for a genuinely prosperous society.”

*Note to editors

A list of some other main demands in the roadmap to social Europe:

- The Porto action plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights should be reviewed regularly, and further legislative action by the Commission and EU member states is needed to ensure its full implementation, with a specific focus on childcare, social protection, housing and essential services.

- Social rights must have the same priority status as economic and environmental standards.

- We call for EU legislation on minimum income schemes, quality traineeships, and artificial intelligence at the workplace.

- We urge a revision of the rules on essential services to improve access to water, sanitation, energy, transport, financial services and digital communications, as well as housing.

- The Child Guarantee instrument with a dedicated budget of at least €20 billion must be a priority.

- The right to education and training must be guaranteed for all workers.