In November 2017, the European institutions adopted the European Pillar of Social Rights, aiming to lead the way towards a strong Social Europe. The European Commission has just released an Action Plan to implement these principles, which will have many consequences for the social services sector.
The Commission proposes three headline targets to be achieved by 2030:
1. At least 78% of the population aged 20 to 64 should be in employment, up from 73% today. This means continue working to close gender gaps in the labour market, increase the provision of affordable and accessible early childhood education and care (ECEC), as well as long-term care. The Social Employers has been involved in the development of the 2020 Annual Report of the Social Protection Committee, and highlighted the changes in the servicesneeds of users and the staff shortages.
It also means improving the participation of groups that are now under-represented in the labour market, particularly people with disabilities, one of the main objectives included in the European Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
2. At least 60% of all adults should participate in training every year, to ensure the appropriate education and skills for the current and future workforce. The European Commission places great emphasis, in the pandemic context, on the need to invest in skills development under the Skills agenda, focusing on basic digital skills and the reduction of school failure.
3. The number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion should be reduced by at least 15 million, of which at least 5 million should be children.
The pandemic is expected to further increase financial insecurity, poverty and income inequality. The focus will be on preventing child poverty and effective access to essential services of good quality, such as care and support services, key to guarantee social and economic inclusion.
Implementing the principles of the Social Pillar:
The Social Employers had answered the Commission’s consultation aiming at preparing the implementation of the Action Plan. This by asking to strengthen the effectiveness of social rights, give political impetus to develop social services and to invest in social services.
In its Action Plan the Commission calls for active support for employment through measures to promote job creation, particularly in the digital and environmental sectors. It also highlights the key role of social dialogue to guarantee adequate working and living conditions and a socially responsible restructuring. This is in line with the main objective of the Social Employers’ new project called FORESEE, which aims to strengthen the capacity of social partners in social services.
Services for the elderly and people with disabilities with significant support needs, have been severely affected by the pandemic and faces significant structural labour shortages. The Commission highlights the need for reforms and invest in such services, as well as in working conditions and training, which will create jobs and ensure accessible, affordable and quality services.
The Commission will also update the EU’s occupational safety and health strategic framework, to improve occupational safety and health standards, which is essential for labour productivity, employment and the economy overall. The Social Employers submitted its feedback on the consultation, highlighting specific issues and needs from the social services employers’ perspectives.
The revised Scoreboard will track Member States’ trends and performances, enabling the Commission to monitor progress towards the implementation of the EPSR, particularly on the coverage of long-term care needs, formal childcare and social expenditure in % of the GDP.
The Commission calls on the Member States to define their own national targets and to make full use of the EU funds available to support reforms and investments in line with the EPSR; including: ESF+, Recovery and Resilience Facility and other funds such as ERDF, Just Transition Fund, React-EU, Erasmus+, InvestEU, the Technical Support Instrument, Horizon Europe, EU4Health programme and AMIF.
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