Monday

23rd Jul 2018

Opinion

MEP Ulvskog is wrong about the social pillar

  • The social pillar calls for a uniformity that would undermine European unity. (Photo: European Parliament)

Swedish social democratic MEP Marita Ulvskog claims, in her reply to my criticism of the EU pillar of social rights, that it "is not and was never intended to be a detailed set of policies for how member states should manage their social systems".

As vice-chair of the European Parliament employment committee, Ulvskog should be aware of the policies she advocates and the reports she votes in favour of.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The central idea of the social pillar is to move the design and management of member states’ social systems from national to the European level.

The European Commission, in its communication presented on 26 April, states all various instruments available will be mobilised at European level in order to enforce the pillar.

However, the communication is only the commission's first guideline on its own position. Other positions go much further.

The European parliament adopted a resolution on the pillar on the 19 January.

Marita Ulvskog voted in favour of this report, which called on the commission to "put forward proposals for a stable European pillar of social rights that do not stop in the declaration of principles or good intentions, but help to strengthen social rights through concrete and specific tools (legislation, mechanisms for policy making and financial instruments)”.

Further, it specified that the parliament “recommends the establishment of wage floors in the form of a national minimum wage”, as well as “including legislative proposals as regards maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, careers’ leave, access to quality care services and flexible working time arrangements”.

It should be clear what the full implications of the social pillar are.

It is not more European because it is decided in Brussels. Different traditions, preconditions and priorities characterise the different EU member states.

Neither is it more social, nor European, because it is only one pillar neglecting the differences instead of the different social pillars related to each member states' priorities and economic opportunities.

It is time to start debating the real issue. The suggested pillar will not pave the way for a more social Europe. What is needed for that is cohesion in structural reforms in order to facilitate economic growth and jobs for all.

Welfare needs vary between countries, depending on different values, traditions, priorities and economic conditions. For the vast majority of European citizens, welfare is an issue we do not want to compromise on. This will sow discord among member states and create conflict.

Minimum standards are harmonisation. Let us look at the new commission proposal on parental leave: not only do they introduce further quotas for parental leave, but also stipulate that parental leave should be at least eight months. This would be a major intrusion on national sovereignty.

The European Union is the most important project of our lifetime.

Many issues are suited for decisions at the European level. These include trade agreements, environmental matters and questions about the internal market and our digital market, and not least in our times – foreign and security policy. But our welfare or social security schemes are not such issues.

The serious thing is that the whole idea of a social pillar is opposed to subsidiarity, national sovereignty and the diversity that makes Europe strong. It calls for a uniformity that will undermine European unity.

It will lead to an EU that temporarily regulates the everyday lives and welfare of citizens.

Gunnar Hoekmark is the leader of the Swedish EPP delegation in the European Parliament and member of the committee on economic affairs.

New EU parliament coalitions get in shape

Social-democrats and their allies scored a major win on Thursday with the adoption of a report on social rights. But questions remain on the parliament's power balance after the end of the left-right grand coalition.

How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism

The suggestion that Russians themselves play a role in the condition of their state today is often dismissed as "xenophobic" or "Russophobic". But if not addressed, the evils of nationalism, chauvinism, and imperialism will continue even after Putin is gone.

News in Brief

  1. Greece FM warns of Russian interference in Balkans
  2. Minister: No Franco-German disagreement on US tariffs
  3. UK Brexit minister warns of 'no-deal' preparations
  4. Munich: large protest against CSU's anti-migration line
  5. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  6. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  7. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  8. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Far-right Bannon to open EU campaign group
  2. Russia sanctions: test of EU commitment to international law
  3. Malta's PM cleared of Panama Paper wrongdoing
  4. EU wants answers to de-dramatise Brexit talks
  5. Juncker White House trip trumps the agenda This WEEK
  6. Italian populists try to sink EU migrant mission
  7. EU urges no-deal Brexit preparation
  8. Turkey ends state of emergency but continues crackdown

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us