After a public consultation launched in March 2016, the three European Institutions adopted the European Pillar of Social Rights in November 2017 – a kind of compass to guide future EU social and economic policy actions.

The Pillar of Social Rights is about delivering new and more effective rights for citizens. It consists of 20 key principles, structured around three categories:

  • Equal opportunities and access to the labour market
  • Fair working conditions
  • Social protection and inclusion

It builds on progress made through European legislation, through benchmarking between countries under the EU social open method of coordination, through country-specific reforms under the European economic growth strategy (referred to as the European Semester), the policy guidelines of the EU Social Investment Package adopted in 2013, and the feedback obtained during the 2016 public consultation on existing social and employment needs.

Objectives and tools

The aim of the European Commission (namely of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker) with the proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights was not only to deliver more rights for citizens, but also to agree with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on an EU framework to monitor social and employment performance of EU countries, and push for more convergence in the Eurozone in order to tackle different challenges:

  • the far-reaching consequences of the crisis (poverty, unemployment)
  • a changing world of work (digitalisation)
  • accentuating demographic trends (ageing society)
  • very different performances within the euro area

The implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights is driven through a mix of funding, policy, benchmarking, social innovation, and legislation, in close cooperation with social partners and civil society.

COFACE position

In March-May 2016 we launched a consultation with our membership, which resulted in a Discussion Paper in September 2016 for our Brussels-based Reflection seminar with key European policy-makers and stakeholders to discuss how the Pillar can be useful to tackle challenges at local level and how it links to other on-going legislative and policy initiatives. In December 2016, COFACE then published its recommendations on how to make it work at local level. After formal publication of the Pillar in April 2017, together with the package on work-life balance, we have produced different assessments, made presentations across Europe, and continue to advocate for meaningful implementation through legislative and non-legislative measures.

  • The Pillar should address both emergency needs and build sound welfare systems to prevent poverty and exclusion, and hence ensure better monetary and economic stability in the future.
  • The Pillar must ensure the needs of all EU citizens are sufficiently covered and social rights are provided on an equal basis with others. Protect the social rights of refugees and undocumented immigrants as well.
  • The actions of the Pillar should be based on core values of non-discrimination, gender equality, solidarity, empowerment, human rights
  • Life-course perspective should be the starting point for actions, addressing all generations from birth to old age.

The 7 principles where COFACE Families Europe has most expertise, knowledge and well-developed positions are the following:

1. Education, training and life-long learning
2. Gender equality
3. Work-life balance
4. Inclusion of persons with disabilities
5. Long-term care
6. Childcare and support to children
7. Access to essential services


Following the successful #Iwantworklifebalance campaign in support of the EU worklife balance directive (between 2017-2019), the EU adopted minimum standards on adequately paternity leave, parental leave, carers leave and flexible work arrangements.

In September 2019, to welcome the new European Parliament, we launched our New Deal for Families of Today, which is our key contribution to drive the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights through concrete objectives to be reached by 2024. This New Deal reflects the clear needs and challenges of families of today. We are ready to work in partnership with the European Institutions to drive implementation of social rights for families of today.


COFACE Families Europe welcomes the Proclamation of the Pillar November 2017
COFACE Families Europe Preliminary Assessment of the Pillar May 2017
COFACE Families Europe Pillar Recommendations December 2016
COFACE Families Europe Pillar Discussion Paper September 2016

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Results Of The Porto Social Summit

Results of the Porto Social Summit

EU leaders, European institutions, social partners and civil society representatives met up beginning of May in Porto, Portugal to discuss how to set the European social policy agenda for the next decade as well as how to leave no one…

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