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EU back on track with Commission proposal on Social Rights

Yesterday, the European Commission launched a social package proposing progress on the social dimension of the European Union. The package includes a reflection paper on three possible scenarios for the social dimension of the EU. It also includes a proposal for the European Pillar of Social Rights, a Social Scoreboard and initiatives related to the balance between work and private life, access to social protection and the working time directive. For EASPD, these initiatives demonstrate the European Commission’s commitment to building a more social Europe. We now call on the European Member States, Parliament and civil society to work together to make progress on social rights in Europe.

 Following over a year of consultation, the European Commission launched yesterday a proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights. The proposal outlines 20 principles structured around three main categories: equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. The Commission also comes with a “Social Scoreboard” to monitor the implementation of the Pillar and other initiatives on issues such as a better balance between work and private life, access to social protection and the working time directive.

 Mr Jim Crowe, President of the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities, also welcomed the proposal stating that “far from the usual stereotypes we too often hear about the European Commission, their proposed Pillar of Social Rights is a really positive response to the real needs, wishes and concerns of many people the Europe. It’s now up to our national governments and Members of the European Parliament to help make sure that the proposals become a reality. We’ll remain involved in these debates”.

 Perhaps the most significant progress has been made through the improved mainstreaming of the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities throughout the Pillar, as recommended by EASPD’s Position Paper. This includes areas essential to the inclusion of persons with disabilities such as inclusive education, employment support and community-based. EASPD welcomes the fact that the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) now reflects large parts of the Joint Declaration on the Support Services of Tomorrow, co-signed by 6 important European NGOs, including EASPD. Further progress can nonetheless be made regarding the pre-supposed “capacity of people to work”; a highly controversial debate in many European Countries when it comes to persons with disabilities.

 EASPD also welcomes that references to quality support services can be found in nearly all principles in the Pillar. Ms Sabrina Ferraina, Policy Manager EASPD, welcomes this recognition as an“ important step to ensure that the care sector’s contribution is well recognised  and appropriately financed. The sector has borne the brunt of austerity the last few years. The Pillar of Social Rights will not be implemented as effectively if no progress is made in this regard, including at European level. This is the big elephant in the room in the proposed Pillar”.

 The European Commission also launched a reflection paper on the social dimension of Europe. The paper proposes and discusses three scenarios: (1) limiting the “social dimension” to free movement; (2) those who want to do more could do more on the social field; and (3) the entire European Union could deepen the social dimension together. EASPD recognises and supports the European Commission’s commitment to place the Social Rights Pillar at the heart of the broader debate initiated on the future of the European Union.

 Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD, believes that “the first option should be an absolute “no” as it would risk bringing the EU to its knees. The second option could help to demonstrate the success a more Social Europe could have; having a positive domino effect on all other Member States to then join in. In any case, we will have this important debate with our members over the upcoming months to assess which option is the best for the development of high quality support services in Europe”.  
EASPD will continue to be involved in these important discussions with the European institutions, our partners here in Brussels and most importantly our members at national level.

Related documents

-          Press Release in PDF
-          European Commission: reflection paper on the social dimension of Europe
-          European Commission proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights
-           Joint Declaration on Developing together the Support Services of Tomorrow (2016)
-          EASPD Positon Paper on the European Pillar of Social Rights (2016)

If you have any questions, please contact Thomas, Investment Policy Advisor EASPD