August 5, 2021

“Europeans have missed the opportunity to promote a more social Union”

The summit of European leaders in Porto, on May 7 and 8, aimed to relaunch social Europe. Did he fill it out?

I was hungry for more. In Porto, we dealt more with the symptoms than the causes. At no time does the Porto Declaration identify the structural obstacles to the fight against poverty in Europe. In my opinion, there are three: the absence of fiscal harmonization, the existence of social competition between the Twenty-Seven and, finally, the Stability and Growth Pact and the macroeconomic constraints it imposes. to Europeans.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Porto Summit: restoring faith in social Europe

Precisely, the Stability and Growth Pact, which was suspended in these times of the Covid-19 crisis, will be reformed …

There is a debate for the rest within the Commission. Should we, roughly speaking, return as quickly as possible, when the crisis is over, to the pact as it exists? Or move on to something else and thus better encourage States to fight against social exclusion? I met [les vice-présidents de la Commission] Valdis Dombrovskis and Frans Timmermans, as well as Commissioners Paolo Gentiloni [à l’économie], and Nicolas Schmit [aux affaires sociales] : clearly, at the Commission, opinions are divided. The fact that Nicolas Schmit is not associated with the task force responsible for reflecting on the subject is not a good sign.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Is a “strong social Europe” possible?

The 750 billion euros European recovery plan makes aid to the Twenty-Seven conditional on strict criteria in terms of the fight against climate change or the digitization of the economy. In social matters, it is less restrictive. What do you think ?

It is a card that the Commission should have played. Europeans have missed the opportunity to promote a more social Europe, even if the recovery plan provides funding, for example, for projects led by NGOs fighting against exclusion. With my team, we studied the national recovery plans [que les Européens ont remis à la Commission afin d’accéder aux aides du plan de relance]. Unfortunately, with the exception of Spain, NGOs and social partners have been very little involved.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Olivier De Schutter: “The European Commission could do more on social issues”

The EU still pretends to believe that growth will meet the expectations of people who are permanently excluded. We know that is not the case. Social matters are certainly not a competence of the EU, but they have the means to create a framework which facilitates efforts against poverty. The reform of the Stability and Growth Pact could be a game-changer.

You have 30.7% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.