12 March 2021

EPSR Action Plan: Involvement of social partners remains crucial

The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan is setting ambitious targets to be reached by 2030. Together with the action plan, the Commission has presented a revised social scoreboard, that will continue to be part of the Semester process. An active involvement of social partners will be a critical element for a sustainable success.

The Pillar: from political declaration to defined targets

With the presentation of the EPSR Action Plan, Commissioner for Jobs & Social Rights Nicolas Schmit has set out legislative and non-legislative actions for the next 4 years and an overall indicator to deliver an ambitious implementation by 2030. The bold targets are:

  • min 78% of citizens between 20 and 64 should be in employment
  • min 60% of all adults should once a year participate in a training
  • min 15 million people should be moved out of the zone of risk of poverty

Main tool: European Semester

The above targets that the Commission has defined in the employment, skills and social protection area require an active involvement and cooperation of the Member States and social partners.

In order to achieve the targets by 2030, the Commission asks Member States to define their own national objectives and has further proposed a revised social scoreboard that feeds into the Semester in order to better monitor progress in the delivery of the pillar. In that context already before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the semester process was acquiring a reinforced social dimension which was in need of a reinforced social partner involvement.

Today, with the National Recovery and Resilience Plans becoming they key instruments of the Semester, the role of social partners becomes even more crucial in order to make Europe’s industry and societal recovery a success.

Factor for success: social partners

Strengthening Europe’s social dimension as described in the EPSR Action Plan requires a strong and trustworthy social partnership.

However, current legal initiatives by the Commission attack that social partnership and collective bargaining systems (e.g. Proposal for Directive on European Minimum Wages) or create additional administrative burdens that do not solve the root of the problem (e.g. Proposal for Directive on Pay Transparency)

Whereas the involvement of social partners is foreseen, it remains crucial that national social partners can actively embrace that role. Especially as recovery plans will certainly address employment and social challenges and consequently will look again into reforms of labour markets.