Social Europe Network adopts plan to put citizens' wellbeing at the heart of policymaking
MEPs, representatives from PES member parties and organisations, trade unionists and civil society today endorsed a comprehensive policy document which aims to put wellbeing at the centre of society. This principle - the wellbeing of citizens - must be a guiding framework for European Union policy, the PES Social Europe Network (SEN) agreed today.
Network Chair MEP Agnes Jongerius said:
“Back in January, when we started discussing citizens' wellbeing as the main objective for our societies, building on basics such as health, reliable public services and strong welfare states, we could not expect that Covid 19 pandemic would make our reflection this topical. Yet, every day it is clearer that wellbeing is the objective that must frame our policies for the fight against the pandemic, our recovery, and the post-recovery period. Wellbeing must set the ground for a fairer, more sustainable and more inclusive society. It is time for the EU to go beyond economic and financial criteria as the primary benchmark of good policy. Instead, our approach must protect and promote the wellbeing of each individual.
“Today we place education, decent working conditions, material security, gender equality, access to a healthy environment, access to social protection, and democratic participation as the first milestones on the way to a society of wellbeing.
“The publication we have endorsed is the product of a wide consultation with the PES political family, trade unionists and civil society. It is our collective vision for a strong, sustainable and inclusive ‘wellbeing society’. It is a vision which the progressive political family is determined to make a reality.”
Meeting Chair MEP Agnes Jongerius also briefed participants on a report - adopted by the European Parliament’s EMPL Committee - on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The realisation of the Pillar is a key priority for the socialist drive for a fairer EU.
The SEN meeting – the first since a new Directive on adequate minimum wages was proposed by European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit - exchanged on progressive efforts to ensure all workers receive fair pay. The PES is working to deliver on this ambition and backs Commissioner Schmit’s approach, which endorses both minimum wages and reinforced statutory and collective bargaining.
Members of the SEN also raised the alarm that Europe is in danger of seeing child poverty rise significantly because of the impact of COVID-19. Even before the pandemic, one in four children across the EU was at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The PES has strongly advocated for a Child Guarantee and recently stood with FEPS, the S&D Group and others to back a Child Union to ensure Next Generation EU benefits the next generation.
The intersection of wellbeing and sustainability was also under discussion, as SEN members exchanged on a discussion paper produced by the PES Environment and Climate Network.