Social Pillar needs ample funding to be put in place
EU budget must ensure that real added value is delivered to citizens' lives, EESC said
Maria Koleva, Brussels
11 May, 2018
Photo © EESC
EESC plenary urged in its own-initiative opinion for adequate funding of the Social Pillar.
Making a reality of the Social Pillar will require improvements in Member States and a robust budgetary base, investment and current spending, reads the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) own-initiative opinion on 'Funding the European Pillar of Social Rights' that the committee adopted at its last plenary session in Brussels. The Social Pillar was proclaimed and signed by the leaders of EU28, the European Parliament and the Commission in November last year.
As EESC rapporteur Anne Demelenne (Workers' Group, BE) underlined, the principles of the Social Pillar and the need for its implementation should constitute one of the guiding lines in the upcoming negotiations on the European Union's post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, accenting that the EU budget must ensure that real added value is delivered to citizens' lives. According to her, only in this way it will be possible to regain their trust and support for the European project.
Spending needs are particularly large in lower-income countries and in countries that suffered income declines in recent years, and all face some degree of constraint from EU rules on budgets and debt levels. EESC noted that adequate social investment will be crucial for ensuring Member States' ability to accomplish the declared objectives of achieving better and sustainable social protection and enhancing the EU's economic potential. Scope for appropriate spending could be created within Member States and with the help of EU programmes by redistributing wealth in a way that respects the principles of solidarity, flexibility and responsibility, the EESC urged.
Furthermore, the committee acknowledged that private sector investment can make a contribution in some areas but will not be enough and cannot ensure against exclusion of the socially weakest. In terms of triggering more public investment within Member States, the committee suggested that it can be facilitated by reference to a Golden Rule for public investment with a social objective, which would allow more flexibility in budget rules with a view to achieving the aims of the Social Pillar. Augmenting public investment can be propped up by the existing EU instruments, precisely the European Structural and Investment Funds and by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, under the so-called Juncker Plan. Additional means for financing of the Social Pillar could be raised by appropriate taxation policies, including effective fight against tax fraud, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning. Currently, EU expenditure on social matters represents on average only 0.3% of total public social expenditure in the EU, with the great bulk provided from Member States' budgets.
The implementation of the Social Pillar requires the active ownership, responsibility and participation of relevant stakeholders at all the different levels: the European institutions, the Member States and regional and local authorities, as well as the social partners and other civil society stakeholders, was also underlined in the document. It outlines that making the Social Pillar a reality will be an enormous challenge, requiring commitment from Member States supported by the European Union.