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The European Pillar of Social Rights

September 26, 2016

The European Pillar of Social Rights will comprise basic employment and social-policy principles which all euro area countries have in common.

Close-up of several Roman pillars

Currently, there are two challenges facing EU labour-market and social policies. First, the effects of the economic and financial crisis on employment and social cohesion can still be clearly felt. Second, emerging megatrends such as the digital transformation or demographic change are raising new questions with regard to Europe's social model. In order to find the right answers, a fundamental debate on modern labour-market and social policies is needed.

Against this backdrop, the European Commission presented a first preliminary draft of a European Pillar of Social Rights, initiating a broad consultation process which will end in December 2016. Citizens interested in these issues as well as state and civil-society stakeholders can join the consultation process by commenting on the following issues from their personal perspectives:

  • The EU's existing social rights
  • The future of work and welfare systems
  • The role of the European Pillar of Social Rights

Click here to access the overview and the online questionnaire.

The European Pillar of Social Rights will be a separate reference document containing principles promoting well-functioning and fair labour markets as well social protection systems. Thus, it will take the form of a catalogue of social rights and at the same time it will serve as a compass for further developing the social dimension of the European Economic and Monetary Union. Member States which have not joined the euro area will also be able to participate in the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The 20 policy domains of the European Pillar of Social Rights are very broad and divided into three chapters: "Equal opportunities and access to the labour market", "Fair working conditions" and "Adequate and sustainable social protection". The Commission’s draft proposal also encompasses issues which completely or partially fall within the area of responsibility of the Member States. After the consultation process has ended, the European Commission will update its proposal on the establishment of a European Pillar of Social Rights taking into account the feedback from the consultation. It is not yet clear which legal status the pillar will have.

At a later point in time the European Pillar of Social Rights could serve as a basis for binding (recommendations, directives, regulations) and for non-binding measures.