Today, 17 November 2017, marks a milestone in our social Europe. After 20 years since the last EU summit on employment, an EU Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth took place in Gothenburg at the initiative of the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. The summit gathered heads of state and government from nearly all EU member states and social partners as well as civil society representatives to discuss fair jobs, inclusive growth, equal opportunities and social dialogue at all levels.
The milestone of the summit was the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights by all three EU institutions. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, together with the president of the European Parliament, Antonion Tajani, and the president of the European Council and the prime minister of Estonia, Jüri Ratas, all signed the proclamation. The European Pillar of Social Rights is now officially a political commitment adopted at the highest level of the European Union and a symbol toward the citizens that EU leaders embrace the future of Europe without renouncing the social values.
EU leaders present in Gothenburg agreed on the need to preserve the EU social model and focus on reducing inequalities, promoting youth employment, education, training and skill development in view of strengthening social cohesion. They pledged to put people first and work for upwards social convergence. Social partners agreed that economic and social challenges go hand in hand and must be addressed together. All stakeholders called for a strong implementation of the pillar as a way to restore faith of citizens in the European Union. President Juncker said: “If we want to be credible, we have to deliver [on these promises].”
In his concluding remarks, the prime-minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven said: “The discussions today show that there is clear commitment to put the interests of our people at the heart of the EU agenda. There is clearly an interest to create a more inclusive and social Europe. Only together we can build a fair Europe”.
EUROCITIES welcomes the joint proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights by the EU institutions and member states. However, we are disappointed that the role of cities has not been mentioned at the summit neither were cities invited to the debate. If the commitment to the pillar is to stand and prove credible, cities should be involved and supported as frontrunners in its implementation. As the level of government closest to the citizens we can bring citizens’ concerns to the centre of EU policy, and help improve people’s lives.
Laia Ortiz, chair of the EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum and deputy mayor of Barcelona, said: “We believe a stronger Europe is only possible if people are at the centre of it. Cities work hard to design and deliver employment, social inclusion and welfare measures and services to all citizens. We stand up for society’s most vulnerable and grant access to all to quality services such as childcare, healthcare and housing. But rising inequality and poverty across Europe following the financial crisis have made life harder for many people. We need the European institutions to change the EU economic model to support social investment in people centred policies and services. Social cohesion has been neglected for too long at EU level at the expense of economic growth - it is time to act now! We are ready to work with the EU institutions and member states to tangibly improve our citizens’ lives.”
Ahead of the EU Social Summit, city politicians met in Gothenburg at the EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum and jointly committed to deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights. In our statement ‘Social rights for all’, cities called for being meaningfully involved in the debate on the future of a social Europe.
President Juncker and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced they will prepare a summary report with the conclusions from the EU Social Summit. This report will feed into the European Council in December where heads of state and government will discuss the social dimension of the future of Europe.
Read our press release at the EU Social Summit here: http://bit.ly/2iY78N5