Social rights show progress, but a more ambitious Commission would have achieved more

Social rights show progress, but a more ambitious Commission would have achieved more

As its mandate comes to an end, the European Commission today published an assessment of its social achievements over the last five years.

While this list represents progress on social rights, it is clear progressive campaigning – both inside and outside the Commission – was the driving force behind these improvements, particularly in key areas such as the revision of posting of workers directive and the work life balance directive.

A more ambitious Commission President, coupled with more resources and a stronger social dimension across competences – particularly in areas such as the European Fund for Structural Investment and the digital single market – would have strengthened social rights even further during this mandate.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“Socialists and Democrats are the driving force behind the social rights agenda, and we will continue to be. Inequalities in wages, in economic development, in social opportunities, in employment, are yet to be addressed, and we are campaigning to change that. At the European elections we are proposing a New Social Contract for Europe, a contract to deliver a Europe with more social rights and protections for everyone.”

Back in 2017, the Party of European Socialists and Democrats family united to support the European Pillar of Social Rights at the Gothenburg Summit in Sweden, hosted by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. It came at the end of a long fight. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (EPP) strongly opposed the idea, and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel (EPP) did not want to back it initially. But collectively we won the argument, the Pillar was endorsed by all EU Prime Ministers, and it brought social issues back to the EU’s agenda. It was an important victory, but a victory on the principles.

It is time to turn social rights into a tangible reality for the poor, the unemployed, the low paid, and the infirm. This is particularly important at a time when social rights are being undermined in member states. In Austria the government has expanded the working day to 12 hours, and only a few months ago thousands of people took to the streets in Hungary in protest the introduction of the so called ‘slave law’.

The PES manifesto can be read online at: