Klaus Heeger on the Pillar of Social Rights: Encouraging package by the Commission, now everyone to push for implementation and enforcement

At a hearing in the European Parliament on last week Thursday, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger drew positive conclusions about the European Commission’s recent package delivering the European Pillar of Social Rights and called on Member States and social partners to work together for a successful implementation and enforcement of what could become a new, fuller social dimension for the EU.

In a panel together with the S&D MEPs Maria Joao Rodrigues and Maria Arena, Gabriele Bischoff (President of the Workers’ Group of the European Economic and Social Committee), Istvan Vanyolos from the European Commission’s DG Employment, Claire Courteille (Director of the ILO’s Brussels Office) and Conny Reuter (Secretary General of Solidar), Mr Heeger generally welcomed the European Commission’s efforts to put in place a new European Pillar of Social Rights.

At the hearing, which was hosted by Solidar, he said: “The European Commission has put its cards on the table, and it is cards that can be the foundation of a more social Europe. It is now a task of the political actors in all EU institutions -especially the Parliament and Council- to endorse the new Pillar by means of a formal, joint Proclamation. Also, the governments of the Member States need to identify with the idea and take ownership of the achievement and realisation of the 20 rights and principles of the Pillar as well as its accompanying measures.”

Mr Heeger added: “Achieving the European Pillar of Social Rights also means better enforcing worker rights that already exist under EU law and need to be transposed or respected at the national-level. Shortcomings are abundant across many Member States. A key role will pertain to social partners and trade unions in particular. They need to take the new Pillar as a tool to further push for a better implementation of established rights.”

Mr Heeger concluded: “In certain fields, such as work-life balance, the European Commission has issued hard legislative proposals to accompany the Pillar and give flesh to single rights and principles under it. However, even if the European Commission has issued a Pillar that can bring substantial improvements for workers and citizens, there are still outstanding challenges that need to be addressed at the EU level as quickly as possible. For instance, in the context of a rapidly evolving digitalisation of work, EU legislation on rules for yet unregulated new forms of employment are urgently needed. CESI will highlight this in current consultations of social partners on a better access to social protection and a potential revision of the EU Written Statement Directive, and I am confident that the European Commission have an open ear.”

CESI’s position paper on the European Pillar of Social Rights, adopted in the context of a dedicated public consultation in 2016, can be downloaded here.