EU Commission and EESC hold public consultation in Nicosia on European Pillar of Social Rights

A public consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights took place on Monday in Nicosia, organised by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee.

Throughout 2016, the Commission will engage in a debate with EU authorities, social partners, civil society and citizens on the content and role of the Pillar with the aim of moving towards a deeper and fairer Economic and Monetary Union.

The outcome of this debate should feed into a final text of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The Commission has already put forward a first, preliminary outline of what should become the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Barbara Kauffman, from the DG Employment of the European Commission, said that this outline includes equal opportunities to access employment, training and life long learning, social rights at work, fare working conditions, balancing rights and obligations between workers and employments, more flexible employment contracts and adequate social protection systems.

“In order to shape the pillar we are doing these consultations and one of the questions that we have is to do sort of stocktaking in the essence of looking at the acquis as we have it today and asking the question to which extent the existing rights are still practiced and whether they are still relevant,” she said.

A second question, she said, is how working life has changed and the welfare systems have to be adjusted, noting that new trends, such as in technology, may have an impact on how to construct the European labour market institutions and social systems.

She added that the consultation seeks to identify which areas covered by the Pillar are particularly important to strengthen the European Monetary Union and whether minimum social standards should be imposed in the Eurozone.

“In consultations we have had so far we see that there is a strong commitment to social Europe, and there is a will to strengthen the social dimension” Kauffman said, adding that “we also think that people are responding very positively to the idea that we need to take a holistic approach”.

According to Kauffman, some emerging messages from the consultation is that is important to enhance social fairness and tackling inequality, a lot of emphasis is put on fair income distribution and on strengthening skills, and the need to upskill people throughout the professional life.

Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Security Zeta Emilianides stressed that establishing common principles for the implementation of employment policies and social policies with special emphasis on the needs and the challenges Europe is facing is necessary, but taking into account the specific problems and characteristics of each country.

Proper human resource management and ensuring workers rights, is also necessary she noted.

The Minister pointed out that to achieve growth and job creation, the EU must invest in human capital with targeted policies to enhance peoples skills, promote self-employment and entrepreneurship.

Gender equality must also be promoted, she said.

The European Pillar of Social Rights can be an important tool for social and economic progress and aid in addressing the challenges faced by the Member States, said the Minister.

Source: Cyprus News Agency