European Pillar of Social Rights: Updating the World’s Best Welfare System

Written by | Thursday, April 27th, 2017

The European Union has established its “Pillar of Social Rights”, setting out principles relating to labor markets and welfare systems with the objective of improving working and living conditions across Europe. The pillar reaffirms principles and rights that are already present in the EU and international law and are structured in three buckets: equal opportunities and access to the labor market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion.

The three categories place the focus on how to tackle new developments in the world of work and society at large, aiming to boost a highly competitive social market economy combining high employment and social progress. The EU institutions will help set the framework and lead the way forward for the implementation of the pillar, in full respect of the competences of the member states and social dialogue traditions. The Commission will support the initiative with a number of legislative and non-legislative measures such as work-life balance of parents and caretakers or access to social protection and on working time. The EU will also introduce a social scoreboard to track trends and performance across EU countries in 12 areas and to assess progress.

The European Union has the most advanced welfare system in the world and as such is home to best practices and social innovations. The pillar will feed into the efforts to address unprecedented societal challenges that the bloc is facing mostly in the aftermath of the economic crisis – high youth unemployment and risks of poverty in many parts of Europe. At the same time, Europe’s labor market is also undergoing fundamental changes – a shift to digital, changing work patterns and demographic developments.

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