Outlook: Ineffectual attempt or strengthening of the social dimension?
The plethora of policy activities that have unfolded over the past five years clearly shows that the EPSR has proven to be a capable engine for new initiatives in the field of social protection. The clear reference of all of these initiatives to the individual principles of the EPSR creates a coherent overall picture of a European social protection strategy that does not require the standardisation of social security systems. This is right, because the socioeconomic starting position, the self-image and the historical character as well as the political preferences in the individual Member States are very different and must be taken into account.
The EPSR strengthens the social component of Europe over economic policy and fiscal priorities. It also differs positively from the approach of the Five Presidents’ Report in that it initiates a fundamental convergence of the efficient social security systems in Europe.
Dr. Rolf Schmachtenberg, State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
“The European Pillar of Social Rights has been driving the development of social Europe since its proclamation in 2017. The EPSR, with its twenty concise and precisely laid down principles, stands for a Europe in which social rights go hand in hand with economic freedoms. In fulfilment of the Pillar, numerous concrete labour market and social policy projects have been adopted since 2017. For example, the directive on adequate minimum wages in all EU Member States which was recently adopted with a broad majority in the European Parliament and the European Council is a social policy milestone. At their summit in Porto, the heads of state and government renewed their commitment to the EPSR in 2021 and adopted concrete social policy goals to be reached by the EU and its Member States by 2030. The Federal Government is also implementing the 2030 targets on poverty reduction, training and employment participation at the national level.”
Thus, in contrast to past efforts to strengthen the social dimension of the EU, the EPSR has very much contributed to a turnaround in the EU. Certainly, the pandemic and the current economic crisis have accelerated some processes. Nevertheless, the efforts in the current 9th legislative period to bring about improvements in the social sphere for the EU citizens are unmistakable.
The path taken with the EPSR is the right one. Europe must also define itself by the performance and sustainability of the social security systems of its Member States. Common objectives and principles and their consistent implementation must be the pillars of the European social model. This means that the EPSR also guides the further development of the German Social Insurance.
The EPSR is closely related to the European strategies for the future such as the Green Deal or the Digital Decade and interacts with them. The High-Level Expert Group is expected to provide important impulses on how social security can be made future-proof at the European level. The EPSR will redefine its new role here. We can look forward to the next five years.