VISION AND AMBITION

ISABEL SANTOS
EURODEPUTADA S&D

I cannot hide a certain “tripeiro” pride with which I await the conclusions of the European Social Summit, to be held in Porto.

Pride, for the step taken by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, exercised by a socialist government that stands out, once again, in the social area, and “tripeiro” pride – forgive and allow me this very personal note – for the fact of the Porto brand being permanently linked to this decisive step in the implementation of the European Social Pillar.

It is precisely in this context that the new social contract for the European Union – central objective in the PS manifesto for the last European elections and for which we have been fighting in the European Parliament – finds its purpose. Little did we imagine, at the time, that such a commitment would have, after 2 years, even more meaning in a Europe and in a world shaken by the pandemic and its devastating economic and social effects.

A phrase read somewhere said that “when we had all the certainties, they brought us the question marks”. I will add, it is precisely on the basis of past certainties and present questions, that it is now up to us to recover from the shock and build a more resilient Europe, a strong social Europe, more capable of combating all forms of inequality and exclusion, a Union closest to the real problems and needs of people.

It is no coincidence that 88% of citizens believe that a social Europe will be important to them personally. It is now up to politicians and social partners to act together in order to respond with vision and ambition to the expectations of those they represent, especially at a time as demanding and challenging as the one we are going through.

Reaching 78% of the employed population by 2030 emerges as the first target inscribed in the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights. And many will say it is an ambitious target at a time when the EU unemployment rate stands at around 7.5%, due in large part to the pandemic we are experiencing. To those I will answer that our ambition cannot be exhausted in numbers. More employment must also mean better employment. And for that it is important, among other things, the general improvement of working conditions, the guarantee of solid collective rights and fair wages.

Poverty, as we know, does not derive exclusively from the lack of employment and, therefore, the fair minimum wage, was assumed as one of the main pretensions of our political group. In this context, I welcome the Commission’s proposal to ensure that workers in the Union are protected by adequate minimum wages that allow them to live a dignified life wherever they work.

Among objectives and achievements, these are just a few, among so many other points, that lead us to issues that we are constantly faced with, like what Europe we want and what we can do for Europe.

Within the PS and its Delegation to the European Parliament, we are confident about the answers to these questions. We know the weight of responsibility and we know that this will be a turning point in a path that we want to be ambitious and focused on people.

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