On Saturday 25th March 2017, with the other EU leaders gathered in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD signed the Rome Declaration, in which with Jean Claude Juncker and all the heads of states he commits to work towards ““A social Europe: a Union which, based on sustainable growth, promotes economic and social progress as well as cohesion and convergence, while upholding the integrity of the internal market; (…) a Union which promotes equality between women and men as well as rights and equal opportunities for all; a Union which fights unemployment, discrimination, social exclusion and poverty; a Union where young people receive the best education and training and can study and find jobs across the continent”.

A few days before the ESC Rights initiative major conference , this move is of great signification for the future of protection of Economic, Social & Cultural Rights in Ireland.

The Rome Declaration clearly backs the process of the adoption by the EU of a European Pillar of Social Rights. As the Head of the European Commission underlined it in January 2017: ” I have made clear that I wanted a more social Europe. We have taken important first steps to achieve that. This year 2017 will be crucial. Following the broad public consultation, it is time to establish the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Social Summit in Sweden on 17 November 2017 will help us to deliver the momentum and put social priorities where they belong: at the top of Europe’s agenda.” (European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, 23 January 2017).

In March 2016 the Commission launched a public consultation to make an assessment of the present EU social “acquis”, to reflect on new trends in work patterns and societies and to gather views and feedback on the principles identified in a preliminary outline of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The consultation ran until 31 December 2016 and its results will contribute to the final outline of the Pillar and help to identify the scope of future action where necessary. A consolidated version of the European Pillar of Social Rights should be presented on the 26 of April 2017. The proposals on European Pillar of Social Rights will be accompanied by initiatives on access to social protection, the revision of the Written Statement Directive, the
implementation of the Working Time Directive and the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families.

Once adopted, the Pillar should become a reference framework to screen employment and social performance of participating Member States and to drive reforms at national level.

Documents:
European Pillar of Social Rights for a more social Europe – EP Briefing (Sept 2016)
European Parliament resolution on a European Pillar of Social Rights (19 January 2017)
Last Chance for Social Europe? EAPN Statement on European Pillar of Social Rights (Sept 2016)
European Economic and Social Committee opinion on the European Pillar of Social Rights, adopted by the EESC Plenary on 25th January
The time for timidity is over – the EU needs an ambitious European pillar of social rights not just principles – EAPN letter to JC Juncker (Feb 2017)
The Road from Rome: A social Europe – EU leaflet (25 March 2017)

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