Social Pillar: A positive step towards social rights

4 May 2017
Banner saying 'Towards a European Pillar of Social Rights'

The European Commission released the European Pillar of Social Rights (the Social Pillar) on 26 April 2017. EDF welcomes the ambition of the Social Pillar to promote the rights to education, to work and employment, the right to live independently and the right to adequate standards of living and social protection. Those rights are also enshrined in the European Union (EU) Treaties and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). We are pleased to see the commitment of the European Commission to promote and protect fundamental social rights across the EU.

The Social Pillar is described as aiming to improve working and living conditions “in the euro-zone area”, while letting other Member States join if they wish. Through the Social Pillar, the European Commission recommends to all EU institutions and the EU Member States to promote 20 principles under three main categories: 

  1. equal opportunities and access to the labour market

  2. fair working conditions

  3. social protection and inclusion

Find out more about the Social Pillar’s main principles on the European Commission’s website.

What does it mean for persons with disabilities and their families?

EDF welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Social Pillar. We provided the European Commission with feedback on how to improve the text and make sure the interests of persons with disabilities are expressed. Find more about our contribution to the Social Pillar.

The principles of the Social Pillar that are most relevant to persons with disabilities and if they are adopted by the EU Member States they can make a change in their lives are the following:

  • The Social Pillar recommends EU Member States to enforce “the right of persons with disabilities to income support that ensures living in dignity, services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society, and a work environment adapted to their needs”. 
  • It also promotes the principle of non discrimination in access to employment, education, social protection and access to goods and services.
  • It calls for active support to employment. Personalised, and consistent support in seeking and retaining jobs is extremely important for persons with disabilities.
  • It gives high importance to work life balance which is essential for persons with disabilities and their families.

What’s next?

The European Parliament and the Council, have to discuss and decide whether they will adopt the European Commission’s proposal of the Social Pillar. Once adopted, the EU Member States should follow the recommendations and apply the principles of the Social Pillar in their countries.

To reach the full potential of the Social Pillar, the specific perspective of persons with disabilities should be taken into account when reading and implementing all its principles. To do so, public authorities at all levels, social partners, service providers and all actors involved should act in close cooperation with persons with disabilities, their families and their representative organisations.

EDF calls for the proposal of the Social Pillar:

  • to be endorsed by all EU institutions with a commitment to allocate sufficient financial resources for its implementation;
  • to be considered as a minimum basis for countries to act on social rights and to benefit all people including undocumented migrants and refugees;
  • to ensure that the indicators to monitor its implementation are in line with the indicators of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serving the purpose to leave no one behind.

EDF will advocate towards EU institutions and national governments to apply the principles of Social Platform and improve social rights for all people in Europe, including persons with disabilities. We will also advocate on this in view of the Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Sweden on 17 November2017.

Find out more about the Social Pillar on the European Commission’s website

Find here EDF’s response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the Social Pillar

Find here EDF's initial response of the Social Pillar

Follow the updates on Twitter using the hashtag: #SocialRights


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