Access to social protection
As part of its deliberations on the
European Semester, EPSCO discussed the national reports on access to social
protection for the first time at its meetings that were held on December 6 and
7. This first exchange at European level is an essential part of the Council’s recommendation on access to social protection for the
employed and self-employed that was released on November 8, 2019.
The first reporting round started in May
2021. The results will be included in the European Semester. In this context,
identified deficits and gaps will be included in the country-specific
recommendations as a matter of priority. National reporting is complemented by
framework for access to social protection in the member states, established
by the Social Protection Committee (SPC) and the EC.
First national reports
One of the focuses of this year's national
reporting was on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the spearheaded actions
to safeguard particularly vulnerable groups, and the emerging evidence about
protection for these groups. Member states also reported on their implemented
and planned measures for the first time. In addition to the identified deficits
and the implementing of the planned measures, the gender perspective should be
better reflected in the monitoring. In this context, the Commission aims to
agree on milestones for gender-differentiable indicators.
A common objective with a long history
Ensuring adequate social protection for all
employees has been discussed at European level for many years. The original
formulation of the OMC (Open Method of Coordination) covering social protection
and social inclusion in 2000 already highlighted access to social protection as
a key common objective. Through the OMC, the EU member states agreed on common
social policy guidelines and objectives and agreed on annual monitoring of
progress towards achieving the objectives.
However, in the further development of
social policy monitoring at European level, this objective has taken on much
less importance than the other key objectives of adequate pension and health
care benefits and combating poverty and social exclusion.
This changed with the reorientation of
social policy objectives through the agreement of the European Pillar of Social
Rights (EPSR). The aim is to create new and more effective principles and
policies for all citizens under the "equal opportunities and access to the
labour market", "fair working conditions" and "social
protection and social inclusion” dimensions. The aim is to close existing gaps
so that member states with weaker protection systems catch up (upward
convergence). The focus here will be on access to social protection.