"Today, the European Institutions took a step forward to grant all Europeans equal access to the job market, fair working conditions and adequate and sustainable social protection", declared Tom Vandenkendelaere MEP, EPP Group Spokesman, as a trilogue agreement on the Proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights was reached.
Announced by Jean-Claude Juncker in 2015 and presented after wide consultation, the Social Pillar is a forceful political commitment which will act as a social guidebook for the Member States and the European Institutions. The Pillar is built around 20 policy domains. It is an updated inventory of key principles that already exist in the so-called European social acquis.
“Our biggest social challenge today is our rapidly-changing labour market. There is a real revolution going on. Standard contracts are no longer ‘the’ standard. There has been a multiplication of forms of work: employee sharing, job sharing, ICT-based mobile work... Automation and digitalisation are redefining what work is, or even can be. Young people are applying for jobs that five years ago didn’t even exist! Digital platforms are gaining ground: Airbnb, Über, Deliveroo... Moreover, the same digital revolution will also mean that many ‘old’ jobs, like retail cashier, accountants or travel agents, will cease to exist. The inevitable conclusion is that our social security systems need to adapt.
For me, the core question is: what about the nature of the position of those people in these new jobs? Are they employees, entrepreneurs or self-employed? What about their pension? What about their social rights? In other words: who protects them? Our framework of our social protection needs to be enforced. And this is where the European Pillar of Social Rights can help. It is a guide, a compass for future legislation that will allow Europe and the Member States to harmonise their social policy.
“I am happy to see difficult negotiations resulting in a positive outcome and I am looking forward to the Social Summit in Gothenburg on 17 November where the official Proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights by all three European Institutions will take place. The Social Pillar puts social Europe back where it belongs: at the very top of the European agenda. Our biggest weapon against Euro-scepticism is proving to our citizens that Europe really is a force of protection - social protection", concluded Tom Vandenkendelaere.