In 2017, at the Gothenburg Summit, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission announced the European Pillar of Social Rights. It sets out 20 principles and rights essential for fair and well-functioning labour markets and social protection systems in Europe. The structure of the pillar is based on three chapters: equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions, social protection and inclusion.
The economic and social crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic requires a lasting response and a fair, inclusive and resilient recovery.
On 4 March 2021, the Commission realised its ambition for a strong social Europe, focusing on jobs and skills for the future. It presented the European Pillar Action Plan, outlining concrete actions to further implement its principles as part of a joint effort by Member States, with the active involvement of social partners and civil society. The Plan also proposes the main targets on employment, skills and social protection that the EU must achieve by 2030. This provides an opportunity for Europe to expand the body of social legislation. In addition, the Commission presented the recommendation on active and effective employment support (EASE) following the Covid-19 crisis.
The objectives of the action plan are highly ambitious and are expected to be achieved by 2030.
The three main objectives are:
- at least 78% of the population aged 20-64 should have a job by 2030;
- at least 60% of all adults should participate in training activities each year
- the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion should decrease by at least 15 million by 2030.
The Commission presented a number of actions stemming from the Pillar, such as the Skills Agenda for Europe, the Gender Equality Strategy, the EU Action Plan against Racism, the Youth Employment Package and the proposal for a Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages.
The Commission also adopted, in addition to the action plan on the Pillar, a proposal for a directive on pay transparency and a new strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities (2021-2030). In 2021, other EU actions are expected to be launched, including the European Child Guarantee, a new policy framework on health and safety at work, an initiative to improve the working conditions of people working through digital platforms and an action plan for the social economy sector.
Thanks to the long term budget amounting to €1.8 trillion and to the Next Generation EU recovery instrument, Member States will be able to respond concretely to challenges at the social, labour market and skills levels identified in the country-specific recommendations.
The Porto Social Summit, organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU for May 2021, will focus on how to strengthen Europe's social dimension: to meet the challenges related to the need for a fair, inclusive and resilient recovery and to the green and digital transition. The summit will be an opportunity to mobilise forces to renew the commitment on the implementation of the social pillar. The Pillar Action Plan constitutes the Commission's contribution to the Porto Social Summit.
Article translated by: Elena Briasco