17 April 2024

La Hulpe Declaration on the Future of Social Europe: untimely and ultimately, too far reaching!

On 15 and 16 April 2024, a high-level conference dedicated to the European Pillar of Social Rights was held in La Hulpe. The event brought together the representatives from EU institutions, governments, social partners, and academia. The conference involved keynote speeches and active discussions on topics related to social affairs.

During this conference, EU institutions and some of the social partners signed the Declaration on the Future of Social Europe that, in their view, outlines the social agenda for the next legislature. The declaration was endorsed by, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU on behalf of 25 Member States and some of the European social partners namely the European Trade Union Confederation, SGI (representing employers in services of general interest), and SMEunited (representing SMEs).

Ceemet opposes such a declaration which it finds too detailed and covering a long list of social items, such as topics that concern social partners and collective bargaining, equal opportunities, fair working conditions, social protection and inclusion. Moreover, the declaration calls for specific actions and legislative proposals on many topics and therefore would act as a legislative work programme for the next EU mandate. For Ceemet, it is solely the role of the European Commission to determine the future social agenda of the EU.

We are also convinced that the process of the adoption of this Declaration disregarded the democratic values of the European Union since the declaration was signed just before the European elections, only some months before the new European Commission and European Parliament would start their term. Any discussions on the future initiatives should therefore have been started in the next legislative term, allowing the newcomers to be consulted.