The European Pillar of Social Rights was jointly signed by the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission on 17 November 2017, at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth, in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The ‘Pillar’ of Social Rights sets out 20 principles for a fairer, more inclusive European Union (EU). By uniting and guiding Member States on improving daily life, employment and welfare, the Pillar sees itself as being good for citizens and good for sustainable economic growth.
It hopes to capture a renewed public and political ‘will’ to strengthen social rights at a time of concerns about the future of work, inequalities and demographic change. It also sets out rights for workers in new, often precarious, forms of employment.
Those who are critical of good outcomes to these aspirations cite the slowness of the processes in bringing them to fruition and there is justification for cynicism.
A look at some of the actions envisaged, reveals that, although they are noble in themselves, progress has been slow and outcomes doubtful. For example, in December 2015, the European Commission introduced discussions on legislation to make products and services more accessible for people with disabilities. With this European Accessibility Act, the Commission proposed to set common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services that will help people with disabilities at EU level to participate fully in society. These are still being debated in the Commission, the Parliament and at the Council of the European Union (Trilogues, they call them). Optimistically, it is expected that agreement will be reached in 2018.
In April 2017 the Commission introduced legislation to improve the work-life balance of working parents and carers. This proposal set a number of higher minimum standards for parental, paternity and carer’s leave, by increasing possibilities for men to take up parental and caring responsibilities and by supporting women’s participation in the labour market. To date this has gotten no further.
Undoubtedly there has been much to praise in the actions which have emanated from the social policies originated and enacted from the EU, but it really needs to improve on its systems and its delivery times, if people are to keep faith with its proposed social