Socialists & Democrats ahead of EU Summit: „We need a stronger and fairer EU – we must adopt a Social Pact“

On the eve of the EU Summit in Brussels devoted to the future of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) the Group of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament urges EU leaders to take action for a socially balanced and more democratic European Union.

Commenting on the Van Rompuy Paper to be discussed by Heads of State and Government, S&D Group President Hannes Swoboda said:

„With more than 25 million people unemployed in Europe today, we must take action for our citizens and provide a better life for them. We call for a more social Europe.

„We have a Fiscal Pact and we have a rather weak Growth Pact. What we do not have is a Social Pact. This is unacceptable“.

„The EP Economic and Monetary Committee adopted by a large majority the Thyssen report supporting the establishment of a Social Pact. Mr. Van Rompuy now has a duty to take this call for more solidarity into account. We are confident that the report will be adopted by the full assembly in November.

„Without a strong social pillar, the EMU will continue to be unstable. Growth built on widening inequality and reliance on credit is unsustainable“.

Commenting on latest discussions about a separate budget for the Eurozone and comments by the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, he said:

„We support an increased anti-cyclical capacity, but it must be within the framework of the EU budget and the EU institutions. Any split of budgets and additional institutions would weaken the EU and lead to ever greater fragmentation.

„We strongly oppose individual contracts between the EU Commission and Member States as envisaged by Herman Van Rompuy. This would have a divisive effect on the EU and would bypass democratic accountability.

„Instead of regularly coming up with new and old ideas about the structure of Europe, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble should stop and look at his wrong political path. In all proposals it should be clear that the Eurozone must be strengthened but without risking a split of the EU as a whole. Prime Minister Cameron already calls for separation, which is more than detrimental to the future of Europe“.

He stressed the latest findings by the IMF and the World Bank and their impact on the economic modelling around the crisis:

„The recent findings from the IMF have clearly shown that stronger tools for tightening austerity are not the way ahead. We call for a much wider social and economic benchmarking, reflecting the complex nature of the EU’s economic problems. In particular, the reform of EMU must have much stronger instruments to channel public and private investment into raising productivity, especially in weaker economies“.

He continued by calling for a strong involvement of the EP in the future EU:

„We call for far stronger proposals on democratic accountability at EP and National Parliament level. All that the Van Rompuy Paper suggests is talking shop between the EP and the National Parliaments with both of them being excluded from the decision-making process. This would be like a dialogue of the powerless. As representatives of European citizens, there is no way that we could ever accept such a situation of bypassing the voice of the people“.

The Social Pact which the S&D Group calls for should include the following practical measures:

1. Decent living wages: minimum wage equivalent to at least 60% of the median national wage; equal pay and rights for work of equal value

2. European Youth Guarantee: a guarantee for a decent job, quality training or education for anyone under 25 who has been unemployed for 4 months or more; common quality standards for internships and apprenticeships

3. Social Investment Pact: Ring fence 25% of cohesion funding to go to the European Social Fund (ESF) and 20% of the budget of the ESF should finance poverty reduction and social inclusion

4. Social Protocol to guarantee fundamental social and labour rights: recognition of rights of workers and trade unions; equal treatment of workers regardless of nationality or on any other ground

5. Integrated active employment policy: European strategies for employment creation and improved working conditions for geographical mobility; social protection floor with universal access to healthcare, social security and portability of workers social rights