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