EU Pillar of Social Rights – Time for action says EPSU

EU Pillar of Social Rights

(20 November 2017) The European Institutions signed the EU Pillar of Social Rights at the EU Social Summit on 17 November 2017 in Gothenburg. The Pillar, which sets out the commitment of Member States and the European Union to develop a Social Europe, consists of  three parts: ensuring equal opportunities as regards  access to the labour market, promoting fair working conditions, and ensuring social protection and  inclusion. Each part aims to ensure upwards convergence.

"The Pillar is an achievement after almost a decade of austerity. At last social progress and combating insecurity through stronger rights, protection and better pay and conditions is on the EU agenda. Public service workers have had their wages cut or frozen for years with no space for bargaining in many countries. With this new commitment to social dialogue, collective bargaining and the role of the social partners,  Member States can bring concrete changes to EU policies such as the European semester" says EPSU’s General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan. ‘"Public services are key to addressing growing inequalities, to advancing sustainable development and achieving gender equality. As workers in public services we know that the Pillar can only be realised  through more investment in  public services including in health, long-term care and childcare, social housing, and in water and sanitation, and energy."

To implement the Pillar Europe’s unions are demanding a social action programme with  legislative proposals from the European Commission. Member States can deliver real progress and protection of workers based on   proposals set out by  the ETUC in  the "building blocks for Social Europe", the posted workers directive, the written statement directive and platform workers.   

Key is a rebalancing of the EU’s economic freedoms with social rights through a Social Protocol and integrating the European Social Charter and European Court of Human Rights more firmly in the EU. A test for the EU will be the way the European Commission implements the Fiscal Compact in EU legislation. This is foreseen for December. The compact has been a straight-jacket for public finance. A  lack of funding and under investment in public services  is now resulting in staff shortages in health and care services across Europe.

For EPSU the test in the credibility of the Pillar and the commitment of the Commission and Member States will in the implementation of the social partner agreement for better information and consultation rights for nearly 10 million workers in central government administrations. As with the hairdressers agreement, the Commission is stalling on the implementation. EPSU is demanding transparency from the Commission after two years of dragging its feet.

The declaration on the Social Pillar was signed by President Juncker for the European Commission, President Tajani for the European Parliament and Prime Minister Ratas for the Council of the European Union 17 November.

Positions on the EU pillar of social rights

Contribution of the General Secretary ETUC to the Tripartite Social Summit, 16 November

Demand of General Secretary ETUC to EU social summit for a progamme of action, 17 November

ETUC Press release

Official text

European Commission



European Economic and Social Committee

Public service employers (health, education, local government..)

Central organization public service employers