Created to ensure a lasting peace in a continent devastated by successive wars, the European Union is one of the most extraordinary political achievements. Despite the shortcomings we may identify in its functioning, the truth is that the European project has fulfilled its prime objective and there was no war within our borders ever again.
Since then, its objectives have been progressively broadened and made more ambitious. As Schuman said in his famous declaration, “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.”
As such, from an economic union that ensured peace, the starting point that made everything else possible, Europe has been trying to build a prosperous and well-being society, improve the lives of Europeans and contribute to progress and sustainability worldwide.
As part of this journey, in 2017, the European Union created the European Pillar of Social Rights, defining it as the guideline for building a more just and inclusive society. However, as we know, the implementation of its principles and the execution of the action plan is lagging behind and the glaring disparities and insufficient social protection of the most disadvantaged persist.
The Portuguese Government’s decision to establish the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights as a priority for its Presidency of the Council of the European Union is, therefore, of the utmost importance. It also reveals the priorities of our political family: it should be noted that it is the Portuguese Socialist Government taking this initiative, in line with the principles of our European political group.
Considering how persistent social problems, which neither the EU nor the Member States have been able to adequately address in the last decades, are joined by new challenges emerging from the digital and climate transitions, it is essential to establish policies that promote convergence and social cohesion.
Therefore, the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights constitutes an important step towards the consolidation of the European social model, which must continue to guide us as a model of shared well-being.
From fighting unemployment to promoting effective gender equality, from regulating new forms of work marked by precariousness to fighting poverty and social exclusion, from ensuring quality health care for all to improving qualifications of the workforce, there are many areas in which the European Union can and must have a more active role.
As Portuguese and European socialists, we do not settle on injustice and social inequality. In the European institutions, governments, parliaments, municipalities – wherever we have responsibilities – we are always working to build a more fair and inclusive society.
It is our commitment. It is our practice. It is the core of our values.