Adopted by the EU leaders last week, the EU strategic agenda will be guiding the EU action for the next five years. It is important to note how the social dimension of Europe is referred to and what issues are now on top of the priorities.

The strategic agenda clearly mentions European cohesion and the upward convergence of our European economies as key joint endeavours. We are still very much in the context of the negotiations of the new multiannual financial framework and President Jean-Claude Juncker, with his European Commission, has made a number of proposals to reinforce the relevance and the effectiveness of the funds. Member States are still negotiating on these very issues and the objective of cohesion is at the centre of these discussions.

The Strategic agenda makes key references to raising inequalities in Europe, particularly concerning young people. It is highlighted that these inequalities are causing major political, social and economic risk with new forms of exclusion emerging. Adequate social protection and access to healthcare and to services are considered amongst the key solutions to fight against the raising inequalities.

Indeed, under the influence of the European Pillar of social rights, these topics have become more and more prominent in the European debate over the past few years and have become key topics of the European economic governance and the joint coordination of reforms.

There are clear references in the Strategic agenda to investment in people’s skills and education. This is a major challenge for employers all over Europe who face skills mismatches and labour shortages. The issues of demographics ageing, digitalisation and decarbonisation are the main reasons for radically improving the performance of our education and training system and it is key for Member states to focus their resources on this priority.

There is one reference to social partners in the text of the strategic agenda. They are referred to as some of the actors who will deliver on these priorities. CEEP members, employers and providers of SGIs and SSGIs will participate in this collective effort and keep on delivering their key services to ensure the quality of life of European citizens and European businesses.

CEEP will ensure that, building up on the steps undertaken by the European Commission since 2014, social partners and social dialogue plays an important role in shaping the future of the European socio-economic model.

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