Financing the implementation of the "Pillar of Social Rights" proposed by the EU

On the 21st March, European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME hosted, together with DStGB, the association of German municipalities and cities, and with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, an event on the European Pillar of Social Rights.The event, taking place at the Permanent Representation to the European Union of the North-Rhine Westphalia region, aimed to explore the theme of a modern social system of rights for the whole European Union against the current possibilities to finance such a system.

The European Pillar of Social Rights, in its third chapter, identifiesa range of rights, from the traditional themes of unemployment benefits, health care and pensions to social conditions like minimum wage, housing and assistance to the homeless. It also includes specific points about essential services, such as water and energy. The event aimed to explore under which conditions these services are to be financed. This is not just to be intended a the source of funding, such as pay-as-you-go options, but also specifically a question of legitimacy when the financing of initiatives in this field is to be done by the public sector.

This was discussed in the broader context of current issues within the European Union such as immigration into social systems, where citizens of one Member State move to another to exploit the better conditions for social security provided by the latter. This and other topics, such as the role of the treaties, were debated by the speakers and the audience, which was composed by more than 60 attendants.

The panel of experts included MEP Dennis Radtke (EPP/CDU, Germany), Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the EP, Mr Uwe Lübking, Member of Executive Committee of DStBG, Mrs Vera Weidman, Policy Officer for Macroeconomic and Social Policies at BVMW, the German Mittelstand Association and CEA-PME Member, and Mr Holthuis Egbert, Head of Unit D5 - Social Policies, Innovation and Governance at DG EMPL of the European Commission.

All panellists agreed that social policies are unfortunately not covered by the treaties and also that many current proposals of the EC in this area are already legal standards in most of the Member States. Some of them argued that there is no need to increase finance or modify the treaties to motivate the other Member States, which should instead be motivated via political persuasion including the sharing of best practises and the use of benchmarking. This would be a more feasible solution than introducing hard regulation at EU level.

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