High hopes for ambitious EU Social Action Plan

High hopes for ambitious EU Social Action Plan

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“The Social Pillar was conceived by progressives, guided to an agreement in the Council by social democratic Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, and now it will be put into action thanks by a socialist European Commissioner, Nicolas Schmit. Our sustained efforts are bearing fruit, and not a moment too soon.

“As a political family, we pushed the Social Action Plan onto the Commission’s agenda, and kept the pressure up. Now, through the Plan, we have a golden opportunity to use the Pillar to guide our recovery from the coronavirus crisis and build a fair and sustainable future.

“We are looking to Wednesday with quiet optimism that the Plan will mark the beginning of a transition. Rather than tackling crises through austerity, Europe can build on the basis of fairness, equality, job creation and social inclusion. This is the paradigm shift we need.” 


Since the beginning of negotiations on the Pillar, the PES consistently called for a Social Action Plan to implement the 20 principles enshrined in the Pillar. Nicolas Schmit, then a minister in the Luxembourgish government and Chair of the PES EPSCO ministerial network, was central to this effort, calling for the Plan in a PES declaration from 2017.

Last week, PES EPSCO ministers again backed the Plan in a declaration, which set out their priorities and ambitions for Social Europe. Alongside policy measures, the PES wants to see social priorities embedded into the EU’s governance, with targets on employment, skills, and social inclusion and a rebalancing of the European Semester in favour of social policies.

The EPSCO declaration built on other recent efforts by socialists and democrats to progress social rights, notably from PES Social Europe Network Chair Agnes Jongerius MEP, whose report – A strong social Europe for Just Transitions – was adopted by the European Parliament in December 2020.

The PES commends Commissioner Schmit for working to deliver the Action Plan. After SURE, an important proposal on minimum wages, and more, the Plan is yet another huge step towards turning the principles of the Pillar into reality for the benefit of all citizens.