At the EPSCO Council of 23 October in Luxembourg, EU Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs expressed their unanimous endorsement of the European Pillar of Social Rights, only two years after the idea was first mentioned by President Juncker and less than six months after it was presented. The Pillar will be proclaimed by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth, taking place on 17 November in Gothenburg.

Early in the process of the Pillar’s developments, CEEP expressed the need to have a clear picture on how the Pillar would be implemented and if it would influence the repartition of competences between the Social Partners, Member States and the EU institutions.

The interinstitutional proclamation contains strong clarifications which CEEP’s members welcome for in particular recital 18 specifies that “At Union level, the European Pillar of Social Rights does not entail an extension of the Union’s powers and tasks as conferred by the Treaties. It should be implemented within the limits of those powers.”

Another key element is the role of Social Partners in the Pillar’s implementation and to this effect the recital specifies that “social dialogue plays a central role in reinforcing social rights and enhancing sustainable and inclusive growth” and that the “social partners’ autonomy in negotiating and concluding agreements and the right to collective bargaining and collective action should be respected”.

Beyond these elements, CEEP welcomes the confirmation of several principles present in the pillar which contain strong elements for the development and protection of public services in Europe. Namely the principles 16 to 20 on the inclusion of people with disabilities, long-term care, healthcare and access to essential services should offer new opportunities for policy making on these important services and particularly for them to be better considered within EU policies.

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