ETUC: Good social pillar – now implement it

Signing the European Pillar of Social Rights must be the starting gun of a race to implement it,” said Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). “The Social Pillar is useful only if it is the beginning of better things to come.”


The Social Pillar – due to be signed at the end of the Gothenburg Summit – contains 20 good principles and rights including ‘Secure and adaptable employment’, ‘the right to fair wages’ and the right to a high level of protection of health and safety at work. The ETUC expects them to be translated from fine words on paper into specific laws and policies that make a positive difference to the lives of working people.


Europe has finally to move from austerity to social rights and solidarity. It’s high time to restore the European social model, which has been dismantled by a decade of austerity, and to refound a ‘social market economy’ where social rights are not overruled by economic freedoms.


If the principles in the Social Pillar were implemented,” said Esther Lynch, Confederal Secretary of the ETUC, “it would offer new hope for working people who are still waiting to feel the benefit of Europe’s much-proclaimed economic recovery, and breathe new life into the EU. If it turns out to be all promise and no action it will be another nail in the coffin of the EU.”


The ETUC expects the signing to be followed by a serious drive towards implementation, including an Action Plan by the European Commission and Member States, setting out for new legislative initiatives, policies, measures and other actions to implement the rights contained in the Social Pillar.


A package of new laws with significant new rights is expected by the ETUC, including:

  • An ambitious deal for the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive, ensuring that the principle of equal pay for equal work is fully respected everywhere in Europe;
  • A new directive on parental, paternity and carers leave, to improve gender equality in the labour market and conciliation between work and life;
  • A revision of the Written Statement Directive and a directive on universal access to social protection, which lead to more and better rights and fairer working conditions for all European workers, regardless of their employment status, including precarious, platform and self-employed workers;
  • A European Labour Authority that tackles cross-border abuses and fraud, and helps public authorities and social partners to deliver sound social dialogue and collective bargaining, to solve disputes at transnational level, and to manage a just transition towards low carbon economy and for fairer digitalisation and globalisation;
  • Economic policy recommendations, in the framework of a renewed European Economic AND Social Semester, that reflect the principles of the Social Pillar and not just fiscal and budgetary rules.

I hope Gothenburg will be remembered as the Summit when the EU took a turn for the better,” added Luca Visentini, “and not forgotten in a cloud of hot air.”



For the Statement of European Social Partners at the Social Summit in Gothenburg

For a full list of the actions proposed by the ETUC to implement the Social Pillar see

For the ETUC’s position on the revision of the Written Statement Directive see

For more on ETUC’s demands to protect online platform workers see

For more on ETUC’s position on the revision of the Posted Workers Directive see

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