to assess the proposal for a roadmap on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and implement the European Green Deal in a way that is socially just;
to underline the importance of a strong European social agenda, in which competitiveness and social justice complement each other. There is a close link between the social agenda, the Green Deal, and the digital agenda, given that the green and digital transitions must be based on social justice, equality and environmental sustainability.
to stress the importance of a clear, coordinated and ambitious roadmap for implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. The subsidiarity and proportionality principles will determine the level at which the EU and the Member States deploy the proposed policy instruments and legislative measures when it comes to implementation;
to stress that the COVID-19 pandemic must not be used as a pretext for postponing or withdrawing the proposals to improve social justice referred to in the European Commission's communication. On the contrary, the crisis must accelerate and intensify our efforts to achieve structural change for a fairer and greener EU. We need to build more sustainable economic and social systems for the future;
The impact of the CoR on the preparation of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan and on the Social Summit in Porto over the past 2 years can be summarised as follows:
• With regard to the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan the following impact was achieved:
o the Action Plan clearly underlines that its implementation is a collective endeavour of all levels of government by clearly referring to regional and local authorities. Furthermore, the Action Plan is very much in line with the views and proposals expressed by the CoR;
o more than 20 references are made to the local and regional level when implementing key parts of the EPSR supporting entrepreneurship, industrial ecosystems, supporting the Skills Agenda as well as combatting stereotypes or supporting the social economy;
o the Staff Working Document accompanying the Action Plan makes several references to the CoR opinion on a Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions (COR 2020/02167). The paper also included an appreciation of the monitoring work of the CoR with regard to the EPSR;
o the implementation of the EPSR was also included as a key part of the "areas of enhanced cooperation between the CoR and DG EMPL" .
• The Porto Social Summit was a pivotal moment for social rights in Europe as for the first time, social partners and civil society called on the EU Heads of State or Government to endorse the Action Plan and its headline targets and to set ambitious national targets that can adequately contribute to the achievement of the European targets. The CoR achieved the following impact:
o For the first time, the CoR was invited to attend the High-level Conference, taking part with the CoR 1st Vice-President and the SEDEC Chair in the workshop on social and employment policies.
o The Porto Social Commitment , which was signed by the Presidents of the EU Institutions and the Social Partners, directly refers to the CoR and contains an important reference to "reinforce territorial and social cohesion, with the involvement of the European, national, regional and local levels of government, namely focusing in sectors, groups and territories with deep and long-lasting structural weaknesses and undergoing rapid and major transformations, and support the reinforcement of essential services and infrastructures in this endeavour".
o The Porto Summit Declaration , while not referring directly to the local and regional level, included a commitment to "a collective, inclusive, timely, and cohesive recovery", which "will strengthen Europe's competitiveness, resilience, social dimension".
All in all, these impacts clearly show a significant progress the CoR has made in engaging in the social agenda of the EU and in being recognised as a strong voice of the local and regional level in this process.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- underlines the importance of a strong European social agenda, in which competitiveness and social justice complement each other. There is a close link between the social agenda, the Green Deal, and the digital agenda, given that the green and digital transitions must be based on social justice, equality and environmental sustainability;
- stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic must not be used as a pretext for postponing or withdrawing the proposals to improve social justice referred to in the European Commission's communication;
- points out that public services provided by local and regional authorities have played a key role during the pandemic. A fair transition means recognising the key role of the local and regional level in delivering high-quality public services. The provision of such services by local and regional authorities must not be restricted by rules under public procurement or state aid law;
- observes that labour market changes mean there are an increasing number of people at risk of losing their jobs due to outdated skills or robotics. Given the importance of further training and re-training of people of working age in terms of employability as well as overall workforce competitiveness, and considering the financial implications of such training, the Committee of the Regions would welcome a relevant agreement by the European social partners;
- points to the urgent need to safeguard the right to education and training of all learners by strengthening the crisis resilience of education and training systems, including through the digitalisation of education and appropriate teacher training;
- notes that ever-growing digitalisation of work patterns requires an update of European rules governing working conditions and working time, including provisions to establish the right to disconnect;
- shares the Commission's view about the importance of continuing to actively combat poverty. Key aspects of this are support for job-seeking, quality and affordable health care, access to education and training, housing, and addressing basic needs. Ensuring access to affordable and quality long-term care is essential to sustain a decent life in old age. Pensioner poverty must be prevented, and the best way of doing this is to ensure adequate pensions, guaranteeing everyone's right to have in old age the resources that ensure living in dignity, while also taking into account the significant gender pension gap.