18 jun 2018

Europe will be social or it will not be

Op maandag 18 juni 2018 kwam ik tussen op de de Conferentie van commissies voor Europese aangelegenheden (COSAC). Ik hield er een pleidoor voor een beter sociaal beleid, want Europa valt of staat met het toekennen van échte sociale bescherming van haar burgers.

Dear Chair

Dear colleagues

Peace and stability in the European Union depends on sustainable welfare in its member states and therefore on strong social protection.

Unfortunately, the economic project of the EU has not been accompanied by the necessary social framework. For the Commission, social policy primarily means job creation based on a recipe of deregulation.

Colleagues, we are of course happy that the European Commission has not totally forgotten the importance of social rights, but we Greens believe that the current Pillar of Social Rights may be too little and come too late. Indeed, the European economic and social agenda for the next years should be much more ambitious if it wants to reduce social inequality, exclusion and poverty; if it wants to promote gender equality; and contribute to the creation of sustainable and high-quality jobs; it will also need to provide for the necessary social investments.

In order to achieve all of this, much more will be necessary than what the Pillar currently offers. We need binding measures, strong instruments and financial incentives to make it happen. As an example take the Stability and Growth Pact. At least four areas of public social expenditure should be considered for exemption from the corrective and preventive arm of the SGP: early childhood care; primary and secondary school education; training and active labour market policies; and affordable and social housing. These fields are increasing prosperity because they improve labour productivity and reduce societal inequality.

Also, the social scoreboard must be used as input to the European Semester, so that the European Semester also enforces clear social objectives in the same restrictive manner as it is currently imposing on budgetary rules.

Colleagues, if we want to win the hearts and minds of our citizens back, we will have to offer them prosperity, security and social protection. We therefore need to strenghten the Pillar of Social Rights. I will end by quoting Francois Mitterand: “Europe will be social or it will not be”. Thank you.


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