European Pillar of Social Rights: Gothenburg, Porto and beyond

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Series Details PE 690.591
Publication Date May 2021
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The proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (social pillar) by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council in November 2017 was the fourth major attempt to strengthen the social dimension of the European Union since its inception.

The social pillar is to be the fifth pillar of the economic and monetary union. It is to serve as a compass for updating the EU's welfare states and labour markets to the new realities of life and work in the 21st century. Its holistic approach puts upward social convergence at its centre and can help to put economic and social considerations and rights across EU policies on a more equal footing. Its implementation has mainly been the task of the Member States in strong collaboration with the social partners and with the support of the European Union. The social pillar's very broad interpretation of the social dimension, pointing beyond social and employment policies, means that it has been regarded by some simply as the starting point for new initiatives in a number of policy fields, and by others as a potential game-changer that can bring about a genuinely new policy dynamic around the EU's social dimension.

The new action plan on the further implementation of the social pillar's principles continues along this complex path. It also proposes three new headline targets and the redesign of the social scoreboard to make monitoring of the implementation process more detailed and accurate. At the Porto Social Summit to be held on 7-8 May 2021 the action plan will be one of the major inputs into discussions on the social aspects of medium- to long-term recovery from the coronavirus crisis, including unemployment, education and training, social protection and poverty. The objectives include clarifying issues around: the enforceability of the social pillar's principles and rights, how to achieve a genuine European social protection floor for all, and governance, monitoring and funding in the context of the EU social dimension.

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