PES ministers: the EU must combat social imbalances

24/09/2021

PES EPSCO meeting by videoconference

PES EPSCO meeting by videoconference

The time has come to give social and macroeconomic matters equal consideration in the European Semester, Employment and Social Affairs Ministers from the Party of European Socialists said today.

Socialist ministers met with Commissioner Nicolas Schmit to discuss the proposed Social Imbalances Procedure, a new EU policy put forward by the Belgian and Spanish governments. Belgian Minister of Economy and Labour, Pierre Yves Dermagne, set out the draft proposals for the meeting.

Working in parallel with the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure, the Social Imbalances Procedure would identify, prevent and address social challenges. Building on existing social indicators, it would refocus EU policy on the wellbeing of citizens – a key socialist demand – and help ensure social concerns are no longer overlooked within the European Semester.

Chairing the PES meeting, Rolf Schmachtenberg, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Germany, said:

“Across Europe there are persistent social challenges that need to be addressed. But for too long they have been side-lined. Instead, the European Semester is heavily geared towards macroeconomic indicators.

“A Social Imbalances Procedure can bring some balance to the European Semester. Alongside macroeconomics, it is time to recognise that wellbeing is a vital metric for successful policies too. This could be a good way to realise the commitments made in Porto and in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan.

“The joint Belgian Spanish proposal is very promising and we are studying it carefully within the PES family. It has been a long-standing aim of our political family to put social affairs at the core of the European debate. This is what we did in Porto and, now, we look forward to discussing this proposal in the Council.”

After the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in 2017 at the Gothenburg Summit hosted by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, 2021 has seen significant progress towards making the Pillar a reality for EU citizens.

Progressive European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit unveiled the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan in March. It was followed by the Porto Social Summit, hosted in May by the Portuguese presidency, where heads of state and government made social policy commitments for the next decade.

The PES is committed to implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights in full and ensuing social policy is a priority within EU policymaking.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, European Commission
  • Pierre-Yves Dermagne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Jobs, Belgium
  • Tomas Novotny, Deputy Vice Minister, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Czech Republic
  • Dr Rolf Schmachtenberg, State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Germany
  • Romain Schneider, Minister of Social Security, Luxembourg
  • Agnes Jongerius, EMPL Coordinator, S&D group in the European Parliament, Chair of PES Social Europe Network
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General, PES