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COFACE Families Europe welcomes the European Pillar of Social Rights as an important step towards a more social Europe

On 26 April 2017, the European Commission published the European Pillar of Social Rights (Pillar). COFACE Families Europe welcomes this proposal as it is a long-awaited European social policy framework that shows the EU’s intention to strengthen the implementation of existing social rights across Member States.

The aim of this Pillar is to serve as a guide towards efficient employment and social outcomes when responding to challenges and to better implement social rights. In order to increase resilience in the Economic and Monetary Union, the European Commission decided to propose a Pillar that is applicable only in the euro area, however it is open for other Member States to join on a voluntary basis. The Pillar includes 20 principles under three chapters: Equal Opportunities and access to the labour market; Fair working conditions and Social protection and inclusion.

COFACE Families Europe participated actively in shaping the future Pillar, starting with the organisation of a reflection seminar held in Brussels on 27 September 2016 with a wide-range of speakers providing different perspectives from the EU to the local level. On the occasion of the seminar, we also published the discussion paper Laying the foundations for a European Pillar of Social Rights.

We also submitted our response to the Public Consultation and published our Recommendations on how to make the European Pillar of Social Rights a useful social policy framework for all families in Europe. In these recommendations, we focused on building a solid architecture for the future European Pillar of Social Rights and to ensuring the Pillar principles can build long-term goals for Europe. We drew out the policy principles which in our opinion were most relevant to address the immediate needs of families and challenges related to demographic changes: Skills, Education and Life-long learning; Gender equality and work-life balance; Long-term care; Childcare; Disability and Access to essential services.

We are delighted to see that most of our recommendations were considered and appear in the final text of the Pillar.

Please read this preliminary assessment of how our recommendations are included in the European Pillar of Social Rights here: COFACE Families Europe Preliminary Assessment

Undoubtedly, the most important question still remains, how to ensure in the coming years that the European Pillar of Social Rights will bring positive change to people’s life along the 20 principles and transforms great principles into actions?

We hope to see both legislative and non-legislative measures under each of these principles, similarly to the recently proposed Directive on work-life balance for working parents and carers. Furthermore, without allocating adequate funding, the European Pillar of Social Rights will hardly be able to live up to the expectations of European citizens.

We call on the European Institutions to ensure by strong governance and adequate resources the successful realisation of the 20 principles and work towards making a more social Europe a reality.

Read also: Social Agenda 48 – A European pillar for a social triple A

For more information please write to Magdi Birtha, Policy and Advocacy Officer at mbirtha@coface-eu.org