Social Platform

Last week we were at the meeting of Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs. One thing struck me during our 24 hours in Athens: a key argument included in our contribution that “member states with good social welfare policies are among the most competitive and prosperous countries in the world” was supported by other participants. But how do we move this argument forward to fight the prejudice that social protection is something we can no longer afford and that it hinders competitiveness?

In the ministerial plenary session, our President Heather Roy put a proposition on the table: a European Framework directive on adequate minimum income for the 124 million people experiencing poverty in Europe. This would ensure them a dignified life and the ability to participate in society.

When I listened to the positions of member states, they said:

  • the EU has no competence on social policies, and
  • considering current economic policies and their negative impact and how consensus is reached at EU level on the lowest common denominator, people in the EU are better off with their national systems than with an EU legislation.

Somehow this makes sense, but I think that considering the emergency of the social situation, our proposition should be considered in a wider context:

  • the EU has been granted key economic competences on fiscal and economic policies which in one way or the other have a great impact on social policies. So in fact, indirectly, the EU influences member states social policies but does not have any positive law to protect them.
  • there is a legal basis for such a directive, article 153 of the TFEU.
  • EU wide, we have an increase of poverty and long term unemployment. It is of common interest to join forces to address this issue.

Not deciding on a common way forward when we face challenges has a cost: increased poverty and unemployment. Our mission is to bring a concrete solution to the people who live in the EU, a social shield that protects all of us from hardship and brings solidarity in the Union. Why not agree to the progressive implementation of minimum income towards the highest standards? The mind-set has to be changed on this issue using best practices from all member states.

We came with a concrete proposal and expect a concrete and argued answer.

Let’s engage!

Pierre Baussand – Director

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