On 13 April, the mayor of Ghent and president of EUROCITIES, Daniël Termont and deputy mayor of Barcelona and chair of the social affairs forum, Laia Ortiz met with Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Marianne Thyssen, to discuss how cities and the European Commission can work together on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
The meeting was a response by Commissioner Thyssen to our letter to president Juncker asking for cities to be represented at the EU Social Summit in November 2017 when the pillar was officially adopted.
During the meeting, Daniël Termont and Laia Ortiz, reiterated the need for the European Commission to work together with cities, using the example of the Urban Agenda for the EU as an example of a multi-level governance structure. They explained the importance of cities being more meaningfully involved in EU policy-making related to the pillar, in particular in the European Semester, and the need for better access of cities to EU financial support such as the European Social Fund and more room for social innovation to create bold projects like the B-MINCOME in Barcelona.
The president of EUROCITIES, Daniël Termont, made the case for the need of a strong cohesion policy for all cities given the increasing inequalities and social problems in urban areas. He asked the Commissioner to work with cities reassuring that cities can deliver better results on EU funding. Laia Ortiz shared with the Commissioner the consensus in our social affairs forum that affordability of housing is critical in and homelessness is on the rise across European cities. She explained the need for new regulations and policy tools to urge member states to reform the redistribution of wealth as it is clear jobs are no longer a safeguard against poverty given the rise in working poor in Europe.
Commissioner Thyssen said: “European Pillar of Social Rights is our chance to reconnect Europe with its citizens. Cities should have a key role in delivering on the Pillar to make social rights a reality on the ground”. She invited cities to be involved in the Pillar’s implementation, such as by contributing with data from local level into the European Semester; she mentioned the possibility to open the peer reviews among members states to cities to showcase good practices from local level.
Speaking after the meeting, mayor of Ghent and president of EUROCITIES, Daniël Termont, said: “Cities can be counted on as partners towards a stronger social Europe, but this needs to be backed up by a strong cohesion policy post 2020. This is the only way to better match spending with the priorities on the ground and to deliver the ambitious objectives of the European Social Pillar.”
The deputy mayor of Barcelona and chair of EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum Laia Ortiz said, “We are ready to do more to implement the pillar, but we need the means to do it. Cities are best placed to transfer these principles from a declaration into concrete actions on the ground. We need all levels of government to work in partnership with cities to make social rights a reality for all.”
Following on from the meeting EUROCITIES is now preparing a new political initiative to ask mayors and deputy mayors to commit to deliver on the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The network also plans to host capacity-building activities in the coming months to support cities to translate the pillar principles into local actions on the ground. EUROCITIES will invite EU leaders, including Commissioner Thyssen, to cities across Europe to see for themselves how the principles of the pillar are delivered locally.
Read our press release here: https://bit.ly/2HDQ6zo
To find out more about EUROCITIES position on the European Pillar of Social Rights, read our statement here.