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Table des matières European Social Rights

Parliament sets out its vision for the future of Europe

Brexit

EESC's opinion on the European Citizens' Initiative

Les textes présentés ici sont pour nourrir le débat et ne représentent pas forcément la position de la Plateforme pour une Europe solidaire

Voir aussi :

Institutions de l'UE Brexit Bxl-Europe

European Social Rights

On Wednesday 26/04/2017, the European Commission published a new, long-awaited European Pillar of Social Rights.

The European Pillar of Social Rights encompasses 20 principles and rights to guide the future of employment and social affairs, structured in three categories:

1.       equal opportunities and access to the labour market;

2.       fair working conditions; and

3.       social protection and inclusion.

The Pillar has been brought forward as a legally non-binding but immediately effective Commission Recommendation and as a proposal for a joint proclamation by the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission. A new social scoreboard shall in the future regularly track trends and performances and assess progress in relation to the 20 principles and rights under the Pillar.

In the context of the Pillar of Social Rights, the European Commission also proposed legislation on an improved work-life balance – most notably regarding:

·         the introduction of paternity leave. Fathers/second parents shall be able to take at least 10 working days of paternity leave around the time of birth of the child, compensated at least at the level of sick pay;

·         the further strengthening of parental leave. The four 4 months period shall be compensated at least at sick pay level and be non-transferable from a parent to another. Parents will also have the right to request to take leave in a flexible way (part-time or in a piecemeal way) and the age of the child up to which parents can take leave will be increased from 8 to 12 years old;

·         the introduction of carers’ leave for workers caring for seriously ill or dependent relatives. Working carers shall be able to take at least 5 days per year, compensated at least at sick pay level;

·         the extension of the right to request flexible working arrangements (reduced working hours, flexible working hours and flexibility in place of work) to all working parents of children up to 12 and carers with dependent relatives.

 All legislative proposals will need to be adopted by means of negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers (Ordinary legislative procedure/‘Co-decision’).

 In the frame of the Pillar of Social Rights, the European Commission moreover opened social partner consultations on social protection to define possible new rules in this area and on a possible revision of the Written statement directive 91/533/EEC (which gives employees starting a new job the right to be notified in writing of the essential aspects of their employment relationship). The Commission also issued an interpretative communication to provide guidance on how to interpret various aspects of the Working time directive 2003/88/EC in today’s world of work.

A first reaction statement by CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger can be accessed here.

Parliament sets out its vision for the future of Europe

If the EU is to boost its capacity to act, restore citizens’ trust and make the euro zone economy more resilient to outside shocks, it needs to make full use of the Lisbon Treaty. But to go further, it needs to reform itself more fundamentally. This was the key message of three resolutions exploring the future development of the European Union approved by Parliament on Thursday 16/02/2017.

Making the most of the Lisbon Treaty

The first resolution, drafted by Mercedes Bresso (S&D, IT) and Elmar Brok (EPP, DE) focuses on making the most of the existing Lisbon Treaty. It proposes, inter alia, that:

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the Council of Ministers should be turned into a genuine second legislative chamber, and its configurations into preparatory bodies similar to Parliament’s committees,

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each member state should present at least three candidates, including both genders, for the role of “its” Commissioner,

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the Council should switch completely to qualified majority voting, wherever this is possible under the treaties, to avoid blocking important draft laws and speed up the legislative process, and

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a permanent Council of Defence Ministers should be set up to coordinate the member states’ defence policies.

“The European Union doesn't need a populist revolution. It needs peace and to adapt to the necessities of our time. This means coping with democratic challenges, providing citizens with social, fiscal, and ecological protection, defending their right to safety in a very degraded international context and delivering on our moral obligations to our neighbours.”, said Ms Bresso.

“Citizens expect solutions from Europe, and they are angry because they do not see answers being delivered. This is evident in a time with many challenges, but there are many problems that can only be solved together. The Lisbon Treaty offers plenty of possibilities for making the EU more efficient, accountable and transparent, which have not yet been tapped”, said Mr Brok.

The resolution was approved by 329 votes to 223 with 83 abstentions.

Ambitious reform of treaties

The second resolution, by Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE), looks at ways to move further than the current toolbox allows and suggests various reforms of the Lisbon Treaty, in the areas of economic governance, foreign policy, fundamental rights and transparency. In it, MEPs:

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suggest creating an EU finance minister and giving the EU Commission the power to formulate and give effect to a common EU economic policy, backed up by a euro-area budget,

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reiterate that the European Parliament should have a single seat,

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propose reducing the size of the College of EU Commissioners substantially, including by cutting the number of Vice-Presidents to two, and

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state their belief in allowing EU citizens in each member state to vote directly on the European political parties’ lead candidates for Commission President.

“These reports give the blueprint of what a more perfect Union should look like. They do not propose European integration for the sake of it. Once these reports are adopted, the question is: what is the way forward? I know we can have a strong, powerful, respected European union and at the same time have flourishing local and national democracies. In fact, I believe the one is not possible without the other”, said Mr Verhofstadt.

The resolution was approved by 283 votes to 269 with 83 abstentions.

Muscle up the Eurozone

In the third resolution, Reimer Böge (EPP, DE) and Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR) propose bringing the euro area economies closer together and making them more resilient to outside shocks. They outline a convergence strategy funded by a specific euro area budget, financed by its member states and available under clear conditions. Key proposals include:

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a fiscal capacity consisting of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and specific additional budgetary capacity for the euro area, funded by its members as a part of the EU budget,

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a European Monetary Fund (which should gradually develop out of the ESM) with adequate lending and borrowing capacities and a clearly-defined mandate to absorb economic shocks,

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a convergence code: five years to meet convergence criteria on taxation, labour market, investment, productivity, and social cohesion, and

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governance: a bigger role for the European Parliament and national parliaments, merging the functions of Eurogroup President and economic and monetary affairs Commissioner, plus a finance minister and treasury within the European Commission.

“Stabilizing the Eurozone would be in the interests of the European Union as a whole. Our proposals will therefore lay the basis for any further negotiations with the other European institutions. International Monetary Fund experts have also responded positively, showing great interest in our ideas”, said Mr Böge.

"Sixty years after the Treaty of Rome was signed, the spirit of the European Union's founding fathers needs to be reignited. Creating a budget for the euro area would be a big step towards this goal, at a time when the need to preserve the euro's integrity has never been more urgent. By delivering solidarity to member states facing an exceptional crisis, absorbing macroeconomic shocks that can affect the euro zone as a whole and promoting upward convergence, such a tool could make the most of the currency, while helping to achieve full employment within the Union", said Ms Berès.

The resolution was approved by 304 votes to 255 with 68 abstentions.

All these proposals are part of a package that aims to clarify Parliament’s position on the future of the EU, in time for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

Related reading : Commission presents its White Paper on the future of Europe: Avenues for unity for the EU at 27 (1 March 2017)

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EESC's opinion on the European Citizens' Initiative (July 2016)

ref:  opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the European Citizens' Initiative, adopted almost unanimously (1 vote against and 1 abstention) at the EESC July plenary session.

Four years after the ECI regulation entered into force, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has pinpointed significant technical, legal and bureaucratic problems, along with a clear excess of powers attributed to the Commission

In its opinion, the EESC recommends:

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to simplify the existing rules, adapting to the actual possibilities of the citizens (the choice of the launching date, lowering the minimum age, recognising the citizens' committees legally, and providing the platform for the online collection system on permanent basis) and to clarify the existing registration procedure;

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simplifying, reducing and harmonising the system of national standards laid down for the collection of data;

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guaranteeing an appropriate follow-up for successful initiatives and by communicating with ECI organisers on the legislative changes and political decisions that respond to their ECI (even if partially);

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separating the roles of the European Commission as institutional mentor and judge. The EESC would be a natural candidate for the role of facilitator and institutional mentor;

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to raise awareness of the ECI mechanism and ensure a serious information campaign;

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to set up an institutional forum on the participation of European citizens, to become a permanent platform for discussion and debate at the Committee along the lines of the European Migration Forum, building on European Citizens' Initiative Day.

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Page modifiée le 24 avril 2017

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