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The European Pillar of Social Rights must "become part of the EU's DNA"  

​​Regions and cities are looking forward to the presentation of the Action Plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights on 3 March. It should send a strong message to the Heads of State and Government gathering in Porto on 7-8 May to step up their ambitions and ensure just transitions after the Covid-19 pandemic, members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) stressed in a debate with the representative of the Portuguese Council presidency.

​The Portuguese Council presidency has asked the CoR's SEDEC Commission to prepare an opinion on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights from a local and regional perspective. The opinion will stress the pillar's central role in Europe's recovery and adaptation to the green, digital and demographic transitions. It is scheduled for adoption in the May plenary session just days before the Social Summit in Porto.

SEDEC Chair Anne Karjalainen (FI/PES), local councillor of Kerava and rapporteur of the upcoming opinion, said: "The European Pillar of Social Rights must become part of the DNA of the European Union, to combat social injustice, build resilience to crises and help people get through the green and digital transitions. It is high time we put it into practice in a coordinated manner throughout the Union. The Action Plan for the implementation of the Pillar should be clear and ambitious, with binding targets to effectively monitor progress. It should also fully acknowledge the role of local and regional authorities in delivering the principles of the Pillar on the ground, ensuring equity and inclusion".

Gabriel Bastos , Secretary of State for Social Security of Portugal's government, said: "Given the CoR's proximity to citizens and the understanding of the reality on the ground, its contribution and input will be the key to realising how we should implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and how to modulate and fine tune social policies."

The European Commission will present the Action Plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights on 3 March.
Joost Korte, director-general of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, stressed that the Pillar of Social Rights must be at heart of EU's coordinated recovery efforts and accompany the digital and green transitions. He confirmed that the Action Plan would include quantifiable targets for 2030 for the Member States within the European Semester and through an improved Social Scoreboard.

SEDEC members also discussed the European Commission's proposal for a draft directive which aims to ensure adequate minimum wages for all workers in the EU, this being one of the 20 principles of the Social Pillar. Peter Kaiser (AT/PES), governor of Carinthia and rapporteur of the CoR draft opinion, said: "Low-wage earners, especially young people, the low-skilled and precariously employed, have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus crisis, which has also a negative impact on wages. Therefore, a European framework for minimum wages is to be supported, in order to ensure better protection of workers in the future, strengthen social cohesion and prevent in-work poverty, as well as brain-drain from regions with particularly low wages."

​​​Emil Boc (RO/EPP), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, presented his draft opinion on the European Education Area that the European Commission would like the European Union and the Member States to achieve by 2025. The opinion draws attention to the need to identify regional education needs and reduce current education disparities between rural and urban areas. "The European Education Area is the key for better jobs that will also be better paid in the EU. It is the key to diminishing intolerance, improving acceptance and strengthening the European identity. It will make Europe stronger from a bottom-up perspective and in the end, European Education Area is the key for a better democracy in the entire European Union", said Mr Boc.

Both opinions will be adopted at the next CoR plenary session on 17-19 March.

More information:

Two other draft opinions were presented for adoption at the SEDEC meeting on 17 February, which took place fully digitally due to the Covid-19 pandemic:

A Union of Equality: EU Action Plan against racism 2020-2025 

Rapporteur Yoomi Renström (SE/PES), Member of Ovanåker Municipal Council, said: "Local and regional authorities play a crucial role in upholding European values and are on the front line when it comes to tackling racism and hate crime, protecting vulnerable groups and minorities, and promoting social cohesion. This is why they must be fully recognised as strategic partners in the fight against racism. Moreover, these authorities are also key to elaborating local and regional action plans, which, in addition to the national ones, can help address structural racism by means of a place-based approach, allowing for the design and implementation of measures adapted to the reality on the ground".

​​Media in the Digital Decade: An Action Plan

Rapporteur Jan Trei (EE/EPP), Member of Viimsi Rural Municipality Council, underlined: "The COVID-19 crisis highlights very clearly need for the strong press as an institution which informs society with balanced fact-based information and enables open debate. At the same time, the economic recession caused by the crisis has endangered the ability of the media to play a responsible role. In order to maintain the strong, high-quality press at all levels, support measures are needed, in particular to ensure the survival of local and regional media companies. Particular attention must be paid to the situation of small countries, where, due to the small size of the market, the resources for local and regional media to exist are limited."

Members also adopted the SEDEC Commission's 2021 Work Programme and appointed Daniela Ballico (IT/ECR), Mayor of Ciampino, as rapporteur-general for an opinion on Union of Equality: Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030.

Lauri Ouvinen
Tel. +32 473536887

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