Towards a European Pillar of Social Rights

In the presence of 80 participants from countries from different parts all over Europe, this seminar “Towards a European Pillar of Social Rights” was held with the aim of informing the members of Eurofedop of the state of affairs regarding the initiative taken by the European Union to give more weight to the social dimension in the development and implementation of EU policies. The seminar was supported by EZA and the European Union and was part of the EZA seminar series about “Strategies of European institutions – the European Pillar of Social Rights”.

After inviting the public at large, throughout the year 2016, to share its views about the pillar and the elements the pillar should mainly focus on, the European Commission published on 26 April 2017 a first roundup of its findings with a Communication, a Recommendation and a Proposal for an Interinstitutional Proclamation. This first roundup was subsequently submitted for discussion and possible approval and/or amendment to the EU Institutions (Parliament, Council).

Markus Vennewald, COMECE; Tom Vandenkendelaere, MEP; Sven Matzke, European Commission

A presentation of the developments so far was given during the seminar by a representative of the European Commission. Moreover, a Member of the European Parliament gave his view about the pillar, as well as a representative of COMECE (Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community) and Jozef Pacolet, HIVA (Research Institute for Work and Society).

Apart from the European Pillar of Social Rights, the seminar had two other topics: the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe.

Presentations were given on both Charters at the second day of the seminar. It was explained that the Charters differ through the fact that the provisions of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights are binding on the EU Member States while the respect of the European Social Charter depends on whether the Member States of the Council of Europe have ratified the Charter and its Collective Complaints Procedure. Moreover, the contents of both Charters are not totally alike.

Gerard Guinan, Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA), Ireland; Rolf Weber, Christian Trade Union (Krifa), Denmark; Niamh Casey, Jurist in the Complaints Division, Department of the European social charter, Council of Europe, France; Alexiou Athanasios, Greek Military Medical Corps Association (ESTIA), Greece

From the Council of Europe, Ms Niamh Casey provided more information on the collective complaints procedure and took part in the debate.

The CEO of the Flemish water company TMVW, Marleen Porto-Carrero, Ghent spoke about water, seen as a fundamental right for all citizens. She explained that it is the task of the company to organise a well-functioning, customer-oriented service, in consultation with the trade unions.

Zoran Vicentic, Telecom Trade Union "Srbija" (STS), Serbia; Jelka Mlakar, Healthcare Trade Union of Slovenia (SDZNS), Slovenia; Jan Kleian, Algemeen Christelijke Organisatie van Militairen (ACOM), the Netherlands; Marleen Porto-Carrero, TMVW Ghent

A major part of the seminar was dedicated to giving the floor to members of Eurofedop, either to explain the degree to which fundamental rights are respected in their particular sector (Telecom, Defence, Health Services) in their national country (respectively Serbia, Netherlands, Slovenia), or to give more explanation on the complaints their national trade union organisations are involved in with regard to the respect of trade union rights. A representative from Krifa (Denmark) explained that their case had been successfully concluded before the European Court of Human Rights, while colleagues from Greece and Ireland (respectively from ESTIA and PDFORRA, trade unions of the Defence sector) provided information on the present state of the complaints their organisations are involved in before the Council of Europe’s Committee of Social Rights. These complaints have been declared admissible and are now further processed.


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