There will be no future for the European Union without a strong Social Union. Europeans should rightfully be able to re-identify the European Union with the protection and the reinforcement of their labour and social rights, and, thereby, of their quality of life. This will in coming years, require strong political commitment and more concrete action in the social policy field from the European Commission, and from the other institutions alike. The reflection paper should make this clear. It should promote specific progress, notably including:

  • A directive on decent working conditions in all forms of employment
  • The creation of a living wage index
  • Action to ensure the respect and the promotion of collective bargaining across the whole of the EU
  • A social protection floor for all European citizens
  • A European Child Guarantee
  • Legislation to ensure the reconciliation between personal and work life
  • A Social Protocol to be annexed to the Treaties to ensure that fundamental rights take precedence over economic freedoms

The Rome Declaration commits Member States and institutions to a Social Europe by addressing unemployment, poverty and social exclusion as priorities in order to promote sustainable growth and to reduce inequalities. However, it clearly falls short of the Treaty obligations as well as obligations related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN), to which all EU Member States signed up to in 2015. Furthermore, it remains an open question as to whether any of the five scenarios presented by the Commission in the White Paper on the Future of Europe may provide the necessary conditions for substantial social progress. However, what is clear is that any attempt to reduce the European Union solely to its economic or monetary dimension or to an appendage of the Single Market will only further fuel the rise of populism and Euro-skepticism.

Europe must fulfil its commitments under the Treaties such as promoting the well-being of people, full employment, social progress, social cohesion, social justice and protection, fair competition, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations, protection of the rights of the child, the development of quality education[1] and the knowledge and dissemination of the European cultural heritage[2]. The Union shall pursue these objectives by appropriate means that ensure the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples.[3] In addition, the Union must contribute to the preservation and development of the fundamental rights included in the Charter, and to strengthen its protection.

Likewise, the European Union must deliver on its commitment to be a frontrunner in implementing the UN SDGs.[4] However, the achievement of these goals will only be possible by devoting the necessary legislative, institutional and financial means to ensure true social progress in the years to come.

The S&D Group has been strongly demanding genuine and concrete initiatives to strengthen a European Social Model[5] based on solidarity, integration, social justice, sustainable growth, a fair wealth distribution, quality employment, gender equality, access to culture, high-quality public services, including education and health systems. We are fighting for a model that ensures the respect of fundamental social rights, equality and social protection as well as fair mobility and the empowerment of vulnerable groups. The same purpose also motivates our fight for strengthening upward economic convergence across the EU and the Eurozone as well as for developing a powerful European investment strategy, as highlighted in the S&D letter to President Juncker concerning the key initiatives that should be pursued in connection with the White Paper on the future of the EU.[6]

Many of our demands have already gathered wide cross-party support in the European Parliament in the Resolutions lead by S&D members, such as the Rodrigues report on the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Balas report on Social Dumping, the Ždanoka- Blinkevičiūtė report on Work-life balance, the Ward report on intercultural dialogue and the adoption of the 2018 European Year of the Cultural Heritage. The expectations of the Parliament are high. Now it is time to deliver and to come forward with concrete proposals. In due course they should be complemented by relevant proposals concerning the deepening of the EMU and the future of the EU finances.[7]

The reflection papers aim at taking a long term view. However, Europeans need to see the launch of a more social Europe emerging right now. Therefore, we urge the Commission to take responsibility and present legislative, institutional and financial proposals in order to make Social Europe a reality as soon as possible. These proposals should focus on the following areas: job quality, social protection, equal opportunities as well as fair mobility and migration.[8]

[1] Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

[2] Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

[3] Articles 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) ; Preamble  and articles 165.1 and 167 of the TFEU

[4] Commission’s Communication on Next steps for a sustainable European future: European action for sustainability -next-steps-sustainable-europe-20161122_en.pdf

[5] people




[7] The S&D contribution on the area of the social dimension of the EMU will be part of a separate document dedicated to the Deepening of EMU, and similarly for the future of financial instruments supporting EU employment and social policies.

[8] The S&D contribution on the area of the social dimension of the EMU will be part of a separate document dedicated to the Deepening of EMU

Related documents

Position paper
SOCIAL EUROPE - Contribution to the European Commission reflection paper in the context of its White Paper on the Future of Europe