Conference Report- Developing an Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights
Last Updated: 25 November 2019
by Vera NYGARD
Developing an Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights- An Opportunity for Impact
Civil Society Organisations have long called for concrete proposals on how legislation, policy, and funding can be used to ensure that the aspirations of the European Pillar of Social Rights are met. The European Commission President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced her intention to develop an action plan to reduce and prevent social inequalities. This event organised by Eurodiaconia on 7 November in the European Parliament provided an opportunity to discuss what the future action plan should be. Members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission and representatives of Eurodiaconia, along with other stakeholders, discussed what the focus should be of the action plan. Ensuring that people and their well-being will be at the heart of the process was an important theme of the meeting.
European Affairs Officer Mike Stannett was invited to speak on how the European Pillar of Social Rights can be part of a new economic approach. He reminded the audience that it was the EU that encouraged austerity measures to be implemented across the EU, but its also the EU that has launched the Social Pillar. 'Can there still be a trust towards the EU that there will be serious contributions towards social inclusion measures?' Stannett asked. The austerity measures have had devasting effects on the most marginalised in society. The Salvation Army is here to represent those people. 'We want to stress that the Social Pillar has the potential to reverse the effects of austerity on the poorest and most vulnerable. There is a clear evidence of how austerity has affected people's lives; the propensity of food banks, the number of beggars and homeless people in the street. We need to see effective measures that reduce these obvious indicators,' Stannett stressed.
It is essential for the EU not only to regain the trust of civil society who have been flagging up the effects of austerity, but also to regain the public's trust that the EU is not just working for the big companies but also for the most disadvantaged. Green policies should not come at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable. Stannett emphasised that he does not wish to only highlight the negative aspects of the EU, as there are also many examples of how the EU is working well. An example is the opportunity for a young Czech Roma boy to move to the UK, thanks to the EU freedom of movement, and attend university. He is now a qualified social worker, whereas many of his friends who remained in the Czech Roma community have been to prison. Why did he succeed? Mainly because he had a church community he belonged to, both in the Czech republic and in the UK, that provided the stability he needed.
Mike Stannett stressed that The Salvation Army wants to see a stronger link between the Social Pillar and the SDGs in order to hold the EU and Member-States more accountable to the values they have signed up to, but also to make the goals more concrete and effective. Impact measurements and indicators are essential. 'We also want to see how the Social Pillar will address access to labour market issues, so that it broadens the access for all, including the undocumented migrants.' Stannett said. He finally reminded the audience that we cannot forget about the horrific deaths that occur du e to labour trafficking, and that people are risking their lives to find a better future. The Salvation Army is working against labour trafficking through the campaign Cheap Prices Can Come at a High Cost.
Considerations for The Salvation Army
1. Should TSA have more say on a minimum income scheme?