PES ministers to table proposals for a strong social dimension of the EMU and five steps for a European Social Union

PES Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs

Social democratic and socialist Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs met in Brussels today ahead of the Council of Ministers (EPSCO) meeting. The meeting’s aim was to ensure that the Council takes concrete decisions to strengthen the social dimension of the European Union. During the meeting, the Party of European Socialists (PES) ministers adopted the declaration "Towards a Social Union" and proposed a two-step approach by making concrete proposals to immediately strengthen the social dimension of the EMU and putting forward a roadmap for establishing a Social Union.

Nicolas Schmit, Luxemburgish Minister for Employment and Chairperson of the PES Social Ministers Network, emphasized that the current proposals for a European Monetary Union are doomed to fail, if nothing is done to create new jobs and to overcome inequality.

PES Ministers discussed amongst others the following proposals to strengthen the social dimension of the EMU:

  • Giving Member States more time to consolidate their budgets, in order to allow them to increase employment and to fight poverty
  • The backbone of the EMU – the European Semester – must not only be seen as a tool to enforce austerity, but should be used to support Member States to become more competitive, to reduce unemployment and to ensure more social cohesion
  • The role of social and employment ministers during the European Semester must be equal to that of economic and finance ministers.

In addition, PES ministers discussed five concrete proposals for a fully-fledged Social Union that should complement the structure of the EMU:

  • A Social Progress Pact with Member States agreeing on social progress targets in the four priority areas employment, education, innovation and social cohesion, including possible sanctions in case of non-compliance
  • Social rights to be put on equal legal footing to economic freedoms in the EU treaties
  • An Employment and Social Investment Programme with sufficient funds made available for social investments, for example to create new jobs and to overcome social exclusion
  • New and more ambitious common social standards, for example to guarantee decent wages, better working conditions, a minimum standard in pensions and access to affordable housing
  • A strengthened European Social Dialogue.

Mr. Schmit said that “After five years of economic hardship European citizens demand that the European Union shows that it is addressing their needs. The five elements of the Social Union that we are proposing does this. My PES colleagues and I will fight tomorrow to ensure that the EU moves towards a more socially balanced and therefore economically viable EMU.”

Rudolf Hundstorfer, the Austrian Social Minister added that “Many politicians speak about the need to overcome poverty, reduce inequalities and to create more and better jobs, but we see few concrete proposals and no results. Especially now that youth unemployment in the EU has risen sharply and reached in many countries an intolerable level, we must act quickly, or millions young people are left without prospects. Tomorrow, by adopting a European scheme for youth guarantees in the Social Council, we will already implement the first of our proposals for a Social Union and start building a Europe for the people.”