COMECE welcomes the European Commission’s Action Plan on the Social Pillar: “A step for a more inclusive and fairer EU”
The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) welcomes the long-awaited Action Plan delivered by the European Commission in March 2021 to further implement the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR). EU Bishops: “It is an important step to build a more inclusive and fairer European Union”.
The Action Plan sets out three EU targets to achieve by 2030 in the areas of employment, skills, and social protection. Concretely, the European Commission proposes to reach an employment rate of at least 78% for people aged 20-64, to improve adult participation in training each year to at least 60%, and to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by at least 15 million.
COMECE welcomes this new Action Plan as a path to preserve the dignity of work and rights for workers, to strengthen intergenerational solidarity, and to rethink the notion of Education as “a constant element that is part of working life” - as called for in the November 2020 COMECE contribution.
“It is an important step to build a more inclusive and fairer European Union especially in a context marked by the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences on the health, social and economic situation of many people living and working in the EU and in other parts of the world”, states Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, General Secretary of COMECE.
According to COMECE, this path marks a new beginning in building a just social Europe for all and it should continue to grow stronger with the support of Member States and people living in the EU, providers of social services, national stakeholders and Churches. In this context, the Social Summit in Porto on May 7-8th 2021 will be another opportunity to discuss what can be done to turn commitments into concrete actions for the common good.
The Commission now calls on Member States to define their own national objectives and invites the European Council to endorse these targets. During the 2021 Spring COMECE Assembly, H. Em. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, President of COMECE, expressed appreciation for the decision of the European Commission to accompany its Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights “with a Recommendation on an effective active support to employment following the Covid-19 crisis”.
The same Action Plan builds on a public consultation of the European Commission to which COMECE has been contributing in November 2020. The Bishops of the EU also have contributed to the Social Pillar from its very beginning, promoting a European Social Market Economy as envisioned by the EU treaties.
During its Spring Assembly on 25-26 May 2021, the COMECE Social Affairs Commission will continue its work towards the full implementation of the Social Pillar, with a roundtable focusing on the fight against poverty in the EU.