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Portuguese Presidency and Commissioner Schmit put social rights back on top of the EU’s agenda


04 Mar 2021


Social Europe & Jobs

Reacting to the presentation of the Action Plan by the European Commission on the implementation of the 2017 European Pillar of Social Rights, S&D Group leader Iratxe García MEP said:

“Thanks to the hard work of the Portuguese Presidency and Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, social rights are finally back where they belong: at the top of the EU’s agenda. Social rights have been neglected far too long – neglected in favour of economic freedoms. The Commission’s Action Plan must now be the starting shot for a revival of social rights.

“The economic fall-out from the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting SMEs and people hard, so we must urgently build a dam against the growing social emergency. Exploding poverty and unemployment levels are causing so much suffering and it also threatens to increase inequalities that will hamper the recovery in the long term.  Our priority is to push for ambitious poverty reduction targets, a permanent unemployment re-insurance scheme and a strong social dimension in the recovery, especially in the recovery plans. We will be on the heels of President Ursula von der Leyen and Vice-President Dombrovskis to make sure that our social response matches the magnitude of this crisis as do our monetary and fiscal policies. It is time to take out the social rights bazooka.

“I was disappointed by the failure to link the Action Plan to the Green Deal. The growing social emergency, the transition to a carbon-free continent and the upheaval of the digital revolution are interlinked, and they demand a comprehensive vision. My group has been leading on progressive policies to ensure the digital and green transitions bring social progress for all and we will keep pushing for Europe to deliver on its promise.”

Agnes Jongerius MEP, S&D spokesperson for employment and social rights, said:

“We must aim for creating quality jobs, that should be the target. Not just any job will suffice to get out of this crisis fairly. A decent job has to guarantee certainty about your working hours and a wage with which you can sustain yourself and your family. Labour markets in Europe have become extremely flexible and workers are paying the price. We are at the turning point, we have to invest in quality employment and ban zero-hour contracts.

“We welcome that the Commission has included many of our proposals in the Social Action Plan, such as legislation to protect platform workers, binding pay transparency measures and the European social security number. The ball is now rolling and we call on the Commission and EU governments to step up their game by matching our ambition and committing to binding targets in a joint declaration with the European Parliament in Porto.  The proposed Social Scoreboard is a start, but if we are serious about strengthening social rights they must be embedded in the same governance structure as economic and ecological targets to ensure their enforceability.  Europeans expect us to make social rights a reality for all.”