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The European Pillar of social rights: a new step towards a fairer Europe

On 26th of April 2017, the European Commission presented its European Pillar of Social Rights proposal. The Pillar sets out 20 key principles to support “fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems”

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The Pillar is presented under two legal forms: as a Commission Recommendation, effective since April 2017 and as a proposal for a joint proclamation by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission.

It is due to be adopted at The Social Summit, which will take place in Sweden on 17 November 2017.

A social scoreboard will monitor the implementation of the pillar by tracking trends and performances across EU countries and will feed into the European Semester of economic policy coordination.

Three themes structures the scoreboard: "Equal opportunities and access to the labour market", "Dynamic labour markets and fair working conditions", "Public support / Social protection and inclusion"

Within the Pillar, the Commission proposes:

  • one legislative initiative: work-life balance
  • two European social partner consultations: revision of written statement Directive and social protection
  • one guideline: on working time

In parallel, Luca Visentini, ETUC General Secretary welcomed the announcement by President Juncker proposal for a European Labour Authority and wishes that trade unions will be fully involved in working up the proposal, and in being inspectors.

A number of the principles and rights included in the Pillar will require further legislative initiatives to become effective. The ETUC supports the proposed European Pillar of Social Rights but considers that the document is not embracing a number of workers issues. For instance ETUC wants a deeper revision of the Written Statement Directive (labour contracts and similar agreements) to cover all workers, including blue collar workers, and believes self-employed and ‘non-standard’ workers must have access to social protection. The ETUC is asking for real improvements including sanctions and not simple declaration of intents and policy coordination.

Finally, a ‘European Day of Action’ will take place on 16 November 2017 - the day before the European Social Summit.

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