European Social Pillar, yes, so Europe!

2017 November 17

Some days ago, in Luxembourg, the European Union's Heads of Employment and Social Affairs unanimously supported the European Pillar of Social Rights in a declaration of political commitment on social and labor matters proclaimed at the European Social Summit today 17 November in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Social Pillar establishes the basic definition of the society we want for the European Union: how we are going to live, how to take care of our elderly people, what will be the guidelines for access to quality jobs, or how will our solidarity bases for those with the greatest difficulties.

Estonian Minister of Health and Employment, Jevgeni Ossinovski, stressed that "our social systems need to change to remain robust". For my part, I add that "we need social systems perfectly linked and with a forward-looking will in which the person and their environment are at the heart of our policies".

The EU Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament will proclaim this statement during the forthcoming Social Summit organized by Sweden and Brussels to discuss social growth and employment. From the Basque Country we have made a contribution from the experience of a close, direct and know-how management of everyday situations and scenarios in our own society.

The so-called Social Pillar contains a political commitment and offers guidelines for action for the members and institutions of the European Union, reinforcing the social community idea and granting a greater presence to the citizens. These are 20 principles and rights that refer to equal opportunities and access to the labor market; to the new dynamic workplaces and with just conditions and to social protection and inclusion.

Employment and well-being become the axis of the policies in that adaptation of the current social models of the employment, woman, housing, majors and youth, education or social services, among others, to a new social design that we intend for the Europe of this new century.

Social changes

Since President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed the initiative last year, the Basque Country has been actively involved in its development. Last February, from the Basque Government, we forwarded to the European Commission our reflection on the most relevant social changes produced in the last decades. Thus, we have seen throughout Europe a growth of so-called child poverty and the economic difficulties of families with daughters and sons; there has been an increasing weight of family inheritance and reproduction of inequality; there are difficulties for youth emancipation and the realization of autonomous life projects and persist gender inequalities and difficulties for the reconciliation of family and work life.

In this scenario we have moved to Brussels proposals for the new Social Pillar of the Union to take into account that the adaptation of family and childhood policies are part of the paradigm of social investment, with the eradication of obstacles that prevent people have the number of children they want; as well as greater attention to the prevention of child poverty and the reproduction of inequality.

We also provide experiences and a clear commitment to innovation and knowledge generation to identify the keys to active aging, social protection, disability and dependency situations, youth guarantee and other policies that require a multidimensional vision. Protection policies must be directed towards the creation of resilient social systems. It´s need of investing in human capital.

The Basque Government considers that the European Pillar of Social Rights must incorporate all the administrations, especially those closest to citizenship, into the active role of prevention, promotion and care now and, in the near future, different social areas that form the basis of the new European Union.

The countries and states that we work the most for the social, economic and sustainable development of our communities or the Union -such as the Basque Country (Euskadi), Bavaria, Flanders, Lombardy, Catalonia, Wales, Scotland or even the small Luxembourg of our President Juncker- we have much to contribute to that construction of the Europe of the 21st century based on people and pivoted in its great Social Pillar.

Vitoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country), November 17, 2017

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Politicians attending the event