Launch of new Commission social policy initiatives

IF – 01/2020

On 14 January 2020, the European Commission released the Communication on a Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions announced by Social Affairs Commissioner Nicolas Schmit as a roadmap for a social Europe.

It sets out how European social policy will help overcome the challenges facing today’s world of work and make the most out of the opportunities. It puts forward a number of initiatives in the coming months and seeks feedback at all levels of employment and social rights. The aim is to enable further improvements in the living and working conditions of citizens.

Strengthening the European Pillar of Social Rights

The existing 20 principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights are to be combined into one Action Plan. The European Commission is therefore calling on all Member States to present their views on how to proceed and their plans for achieving the objectives of the Pillar. These will be included in the preparation of an Action Plan for 2021.

Other areas to be improved to address people’s needs include digitalisation in the world of work, the fight against cancer and initiatives in employment policy and social protection. Progress should not be an obstacle, and nobody should be left behind.

Better social protection and well-being in old age

In her inaugural speech, Ursula von der Leyens spoke of the importance of protecting all workers and this is now to culminate in a Platform Work Summit, which is planned for the 3rd quarter of 2020. Social justice should be the foundation for achieving prosperity with a higher standard of living until retirement and beyond, regardless of the form of employment.

In addition, a Green Paper on ageing and a report on demographic change will be prepared to identify measures to address these trends which are both positive, but also a challenge to financial systems and health systems.

Key European election campaign promise on minimum wages takes shape

The first phase consultation on ensuring a European minimum wage has already been launched with the social partners, businesses and trade unions with regard to introducing a fair minimum wage for workers in the EU.

More gender equality

A European Gender Equality Strategy is to be adopted and binding measures put in place to increase wage transparency. Thanks to the appointment of Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli, EU Member States can no longer hide behind national strategies that have been put forward as reasons to reject such transparency in recent years.

Stealthy intervention into national competences?

The European Pillar of Social Rights is a way to achieve these fundamental goals of ensuring functioning labour markets and social systems in a sustainable manner. However, it is still unclear if and to what extent national competences will be shifted to European competences.