Two years after the Gothenburg declaration, where does Europe stand on social rights? How is the implementation of said rights serving inclusion and a more social Europe? LLLP member Solidar presented its 2019 Social Rights Monitor before an audience of MEPs, civil society and social partner representatives and in the framework of the conference “Integrating the European Pillar of Social Rights and the SDGs in the European Semester – Civil Society Organisations’ input”. The state of social rights is assessed in 16 European countries and the report covers issues such as equality of opportunities – including education and lifelong learning – social protection, inclusion and civic space.
There is a general agreement on the need to complement the macroeconomic perspective of the European Semester with a serious consideration of the social rights situation in each country. Commissioner-designate for Jobs and Social Right Mr Nicolas Schmit who underlined the crucial role of civil society organisations in monitoring the implementation of such rights, as well as bringing important messages from the ground to policymakers in light of their proximity to the everyday lives of citizens. He, therefore, called for closer involvement in the European Semester process, a call that LLLP and its members will certainly be ready for.
The Social Rights Monitor brings a great deal of attention to the inadequacy of lifelong learning opportunities. In particular, as highlighted by Giovanni Casale from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), countries should put in place an action plan for the upskilling and reskilling of workers. Indeed, this year all countries received Country Specific Recommendations on issues related to education, training and skills and most of them focus on the promotion of upskilling. When it comes to implementing these recommendations, LLLP has already pointed out the importance of investment in concrete measures for the validation of prior learning of all types, lifelong career guidance and on-the-job training.
The scope for debate on social investment and social rights within the European Semester has undoubtedly grown in recent years, yet meaningful participation of civil society in all its stages remains rare. Initiatives such as Solidar’s Social Rights Monitor show the rich contribution that it can offer. LLLP along with the wider civil society community is hoping to see further improvements under the new Commission, building on positive signals from the Commissioner-designate.