Common good, subsidiarity, solidarity – Ways of overcoming poverty and social inequalities in Europe through renewed social dialogue

The 7th European Social Week took place from 14 to 16 February 2019 in Milan / Italy, in collaboration with FLC (Fondazione Luigi Clerici) and with the support of EZA and the European Union, on "Common good, subsidiarity, solidarity – Ways of overcoming poverty and social inequalities in Europe through renewed social dialogue". 111 participants - leading representatives of Christian unions and workers' organizations - engaged in dialogue with policy, science and civil society speakers. In total, organizations from 20 European countries were represented (Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Czech Republic, Ukraine, United Kingdom).

The conference bundled a variety of reflections on shaping the future world of work. These reflections were embedded in the context of issues such as how innovation in the workplace, especially in view of increasing digitisation, can lead to more social justice in European societies. There was great agreement among all those present that the move to more social justice is one of the EU's most urgent tasks. Because neglecting this task will most likely lead to more and more disappointed citizens turning away from the European Union's project of abandonment and populist movements.

The President of the European Workers' Centre, Luc Van den Brande, in his words of welcome, called for a new dynamic strategy in the implementation of solidarity and subsidiarity to achieve a greater common good in the EU. The aim is to intensify communication on the subsidiary vertical axis between the international, national, regional and local levels, as well as to strengthen, on the horizontal axis, communication between political, religious, social and environmental organizations and many other civil society initiatives,

The former Italian Prime Minister and current Director of the Jacques Delors Institute in Paris, Enrico Letta, pointed out that the next election to the European Parliament would be a special opportunity insofar as Christian Democrats, Socialists Greens and Liberals, in the face of the right-wing populists, were forced into a broad coalition that would decisively confront the Europeans' fatigue and scepticism among many citizens.

All other contributions to the meeting underlined the importance and urgency of turning away from a profit-driven economy in the EU to a social-oriented market economy.

After John Hurley from Eurofound (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) gave a hopeful outlook in his speech that the increasing digitization of the working world can create more new jobs than old ones get lost (analogous to the Industrial Revolution), These were mainly presented in the 3 presentations by Prof. Emmanuel Agius (Malta), the chairman of the COMECE Social Commission, Auxiliary Bishop Antoine Hérouard and the deputy chairman of the DGB Elke Hannack. This includes:

-The promotion of the holistic development of man

-a balance between economic freedoms and social rights

- good working conditions in all forms of employment, this also applies in particular to the so-called platform economics

-compliance with international labour standards, in particular for multinational companies

-the consideration of health-promoting working hours- a form of recognition of family and volunteer work

-a revision of the Working Time Directive to restore Sunday's protection into EU law

-the promotion of green jobs and businesses

-Sustainability has become a guiding principle of investment

-the revival of social dialogue at all levels

-the support of workers affected by digital and environmental change

-more fair taxation by closing so-called "loopholes" and introducing a transaction tax

-a changed understanding of education and promotion of lifelong learning programs.

Elke Hannack emphasised that the transition to the digitally determined world of work required a redefinition of the concept of worker and the term of business. This new world of work needs new rights of co-determination. Moreover, since education and qualification are the keys, she also demands a continuing education law that grants a right to continuing education.

Manfred Weber greeted the participants with a video message from Lisbon before concluding the meeting with a brilliant summary by the former president of Semaines Sociales de France, Jérôme Vignon.