THE EUROPEAN PILLAR OF SOCIAL RIGHTS AND THE PORTO SUMMIT

THE PS DELEGATION IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
PEDRO MARQUES, MARIA MANUEL LEITÃO MARQUES, PEDRO SILVA PEREIRA, MARGARIDA MARQUES, CARLOS ZORRINHO, SARA CERDAS, ISABEL SANTOS, MANUEL PIZARRO, ISABEL CARVALHAIS.

The EU seems to have learned from the mistakes of the past. An example of this is the new Fund for the Just Transition, the European instrument of temporary support to mitigate the risks of unemployment in emergency situations (SURE), the reinforcement of the European Social Fund and the Globalization Adjustment Fund, both improved in the context of the negotiations on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, which, together with the Recovery and Resilience Plan, will promote new opportunities for social investment and support for workers.

The most eloquent sign of this change, however, is the Action Plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Proclaimed in Gothenburg in 2017, the Pillar exists thanks to the tenacity of European socialists. Its 20 principles, disseminated and commented on in this magazine, cover fields as wide as the labor market, education, health and housing. The Action Plan, which aims to materialize them, contains initiatives as important as they were unthinkable a few years ago, as is the case with three proposals for new European directives (on adequate minimum wages in the EU, on the rights of workers on digital platforms and on wage transparency), as well as the European Guarantee for Children and the strengthening of social indicators within the framework of the European Semester.

The budget of the European Union must ensure, already in 2022, the implementation of the Action Plan as a political priority, in view of the significant risks that the economic recovery may generate growing divergences and the increase of poverty. Finally, in the context of the ongoing review of the European Union’s rules of economic governance, the social criteria, derived from the European Pillar of Social Rights, must be as demanding as the budgetary and environmental criteria.

This Action Plan is the result of a particularly happy alignment of wills, between a socialist Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, the Luxembourgish Nicolas Schmit, a Portuguese Presidency under the baton of a socialist government, which denied the path of austerity, and the work of the Group of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament, with the support and commitment of the PS delegation.

The European project is only viable in the long term if it has the people on its side. If it is done with the people and for the people. After all, nine out of ten Europeans consider it important for their lives that the EU promotes equal opportunities, access to the labor market, social protection and inclusion. Member States are fragile entities in an increasingly interdependent world and citizens want to be reunited with the European project, as long as it places the social dimension at least on the same footing as the economic dimension.

In line with this aspiration, the Portuguese Presidency of the EU has chosen the social dimension as its main priority. The Porto Social Summit, which takes place on the 7th and 8th of May, will be the culmination of this aim and will emerge from it, we believe, a clear commitment from the 27 Member States to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. It is within our power to materialize its principles and start a path that we want to be irreversible towards a Social Union. We must ensure that the Europe that will emerge from the pandemic will be a more inclusive Europe, making green and digital transitions just.

This is a golden opportunity to make social Europe happen. PS MEPs in the European Parliament will not let it go to waste.

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