EU must make the most of milestone Porto Social Summit, PES Social Europe Network says

28/01/2021

PES Social Europe Network

PES Social Europe Network meeting by videoconference

The European Union must seize the opportunity of the Porto Summit to advance the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in full, the PES Social Europe Network (SEN) said today as it called on all European leaders and political families to fully get behind the milestone event.

PES SEN chair Agnes Jongerius MEP said:

“We welcome the Portuguese Presidency for showing real leadership and vision for the future of the EU. The European Pillar of Social Rights was a triumph for citizens when it was proclaimed in 2017, in Gothenburg. But there is still lots of work ahead of us to make it a reality.

“The Porto Summit can be a milestone for the rights of Europeans, but only if everyone gets behind the progressive vision for a Europe with world-leading social rights. People deserve decent wages, affordable quality housing, and we must put an end to insecure zero-hour contracts. It is time to make all 20 principles of the Pillar come true in the daily life of citizens.

“We applaud the work of Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, who will come forward soon with clear policy proposals in the announced Action Plan to implement the Pillar. We now need clear and mandatory social targets. Looking ahead to the Porto Summit, the socialist and democratic political family will keep up the pressure to make these rights a reality for all citizens.”

The proclamation of the Pillar in 2017 placed social rights at the top of the EU agenda. It has been a longstanding objective of Europe’s socialists and democrats to fully realise it. The European Commission is currently preparing an Action Plan to implement the Pillar, which the PES has long called for.

The Portuguese Presidency of the EU will hold a summit on 7 May 2021 in Porto, Portugal, focused on strengthening Europe's social agenda, next to the challenges of climate change and the digital transition.

The PES SEN also discussed guaranteeing adequate minimum wages for all citizens. The PES strongly backs fair wages - secured either by minimum wages or collective bargaining – and commends Commissioner Schmit for pushing the Directive on adequate minimum wages in the European Union.

The meeting also exchanged on efforts to secure fair conditions for all workers. The PES believes employment should be founded on good working conditions, effective dispute resolution, strong collective rights, and non-discrimination. Discussion focused on strengthening workers’ rights in the digital economy – an issue the PES has long warned about which has now been identified as an area for action by the Commission – and telework. The Network agreed that telework - which has surged during the pandemic - must not become a source of inequality: the right to disconnect and the right to a private life must be respected.

The SEN also discussed Europe’s pension system and agreed it must be secured for the future to safeguard a fair retirement, preventing poverty and gender inequality.