Social rights, integration and inclusion in the labour market

From 19 to 20 of June 2017 a seminar entitled "Social rights, integration and inclusion in the labour market" organized by CET Europe (Centre Européen du Travail - Europe), with support from EZA and of the European Union took place in Brussels.

The seminar is a part of the EZA project coordination on the "Strategies of European institutions – the European Pillar of Social Rights ".

On 06/19/17 an expert panel composed of Jean-Paul Tricart from DG Employment, ILO Claire Courteille and Paul Windey from the National Labor Council presented the contents and the current situation of the European social rights. The ILO welcomes the fact that this initiative was launched by the Commission after 10 years of absence in social matters, but just as the CNE underlines that the 20 core principles are weak and that implementation by Member States may be very limited as well.

The seminar began by recalling the background to the creation of the European Social Rights Foundation and the current status of this initiative, along with the results of the public consultation launched by the European Commission on this subject, and also the report of the European Parliament.

The need to make the existing tools more effective was recalled by several speakers (TEU, TFEU, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, European Social Charter, ILO recommendations ...).

An assessment of the foundation, on the grounds of, on the one hand, the revised European Social Charter and, on the other hand, the ILO initiatives and the Social Justice Declaration was provided.

The debate on the future of social rights in Europe, from the point of view of the European social partners, made it possible to compare several points of view. Some speakers called for strengthening the foundation, which must be accompanied by a program of action and recognize the importance of sectorial collective negotiation. Others view that the existing texts should still be the foundation and to not implement a new instrument. For them, the foundation must be a framework adapted by concrete measures specific to the reality of each Member State and it is up to each State to determine the level of collective negotiation it wishes to privilege.

Generally speaking, doubts have been expressed about the ability to make the rights set out in the foundation effective, and its legal impact. It is, however, undeniable that the foundation created expectations that must be realized. In this process, important opposition forces will have to be taken into account, in particular by certain new European Member States.

Access to employment and equal opportunities were discussed, in particular the aspects of education, training and lifelong learning. The right to a decent wage as an element to be put at the heart of the European social dimension was defended, while others opposed setting a minimum European wage.

The seminar also provided an opportunity to review the various steps that have led to the construction of the European Social Rights foundation since the beginning of the European Union. It also highlighted two concrete projects for vocational training and integration.

It was concluded that the foundation is an opportunity to reaffirm the links between the economic dimension and the social one. It is a step and not an end point. Social Europe must not be synonymous with a single system, but forms of social competition must be avoided. There are still steps to be taken, whether in terms of labor force mobility, convergence (with a minimum wage in each state, and a reference level), and solidarity (with a Euro zone budget coupled with a Macroeconomic stabilization mechanism and social protection).



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