Although the social policy mandate lies with the Member States, social issues are playing an increasing role within the EU.

UM – 12/2020

The EU is not a "social union". The Member States have the key responsibility for shaping the state of affairs. Nevertheless, the EU is unthinkable without social components. The EPSR (European Pillar of Social Rights) functions in this area of conflict and in connection with the European Semester. European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen made it clear when she took office in 2019 that the implementation of the EPSR would be one of her Commission's priorities.

The post-coronavirus era will need social protection

The EPSR is the European Commission’s policy instrument for promoting social aspects within the Union. It aims to improve equal opportunities and access to the labour market, create fair working conditions and improve social protection and social inclusion. It has an important, accompanying role to play in shaping the transition to a more digital, greener world after the coronavirus pandemic. The digitisation of the economy as well as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic exposes the vulnerability of many workers, especially in atypical employment relationships.

Linking development funds with social expectations

The Next Generation EU structural instrument makes the "Pillar" a more-important as an instrument for monitoring social measures. This is because the reconstruction funds can be tied to the fulfilment of social recommendations within the EPSR’s framework of 20 principles and rights. Consequently, the time for launching an action plan to give impetus to implementing the EPSR is well chosen. This is to be presented at the beginning of next year.

Consultations covering the implementation have been concluded

In preparation, the European Commission had undertaken broad consultations which ended on the 30th November 2020. The German Social Insurance has contributed to this discussion. The European Commission should then specifically focus on the following areas: 

  • measures that will lead to a better work/life balance and increase the participation of women in the labour market, not least with regard to retirement income
  • measures to promote health and safety in the workplace
  • measures to support access to social security, particularly for platform workers
  • measures in the healthcare sector, e.g. prevention of health risks and health protection, securing the supply of medicines, combating cancer, implementing digitisation as well as establishing a European health data area.

EU citizens should continue to benefit from European integration in the future. The potential offered by Europe should be utilised.