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A call for a stronger European Pillar of Social Rights

28 September 2017

At the initiative of ETUC, CECOP co-organized on 27 September at the European Parliament a short event on the European Pillar of Social Rights just after the Social Economy Intergroup together with ETUC, SEE, the Social Platform and the European Movement.

At this event, ETUC SG Luca Visentini emphasized that:

1) The information we have so far regarding the declaration on the Pillar presently being negotiated between Council, Commission and EP, and to be released at the Goteborg Social Summit, is not yet fully clear. Among other things, the commission says that the pillar will have a legal effect but however without being binding, which doesn’t sound very coherent.

2) To this day it is unclear whether the Pillar will be the object of an action plan and a financial commitment, or not.

3) To this day the civil society organizations are not mentioned (although unconfirmed rumours say that the social economy will be mentioned in the preamble).

Maria Joao Rodrigues, MEP in charge of the Pillar in the EP, said that the council is still deeply divided, and it is not clear whether the EPSCO of 22 Oct will provide the needed consensus (the decision has to be taken by consensus in the Council, and among the Council, the EP and the Commission).

Ann Branch from DG EMPL paid tribute to the "social enterprises, the social economy enterprises and cooperatives" (the expression is a sign of the transition in progress between social enterprise and social economy at DG EMPL). She said that responsibilities in implementing the Pillar are divided between the EU, the MS and the enterprises, in particular the social economy ones.

Juan Antonio Pedreño from SEE stated that the social economy is implementing social Europe and will help implement and follow up on the Pillar. SG Bruno Roelants speaking in CECOP’s name completed his intervention by giving three areas in which cooperatives in our sector are doing it:

1) In industry and industry-related services (and inter alia in WBO) we create and maintain jobs in mainstream sectors not only niche ones, with a strong contribution to the entrepreneurial fabric locally and thus also local employment; Bruno Roelants said in this respect the Pillar initiative should be combined with Juncker’s industry initiative (read our press release on that topic): but that this work required professional federations and business support instruments of the cooperative movement.

2) The social cooperatives which provide jobs to over 30.000 disadvantaged and SGI to millions of people, a movement starting from Italy and gaining more and more EU countries.

3) The organization of self employed and freelancers, as still an experimental initiative in our coop sector, but very significant given the massive shift from employee labour to self employed labour in Europe.