European Pillar of Social Rights & COVID-19 emergency

The rights and principles of the Pillar cover a wide range of issues. Following, a brief insight on the prospects of a complete implementation of the Pillar in the post-pandemic era of COVID-19. For this document, Active Citizenship Network thanks the communication office of the DG EMPL for the support.

European citizens, as never before, expect from the European institutions support, closeness, solidarity and concreteness. How are the European institutions acting, and what can we expect in the near future - after the COVID-19 emergency has been overcome - to avoid that the 20 principles that make up the European pillar of social rights remain only statements of principle?

The Pillar is a reference framework to drive reforms at national level. To turn the Pillar into action, the Commission presented a Communication on 14 January 2020 that sets out the road towards an Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Communication presents EU level initiatives that support the implementation of the Pillar and launches a broad discussion with all EU countries, and regions, as well as the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, social partners and civil society organisation. All stakeholders are invited to present their views by November 2020. The Commission is collecting this feedback through a dedicated webpage.

Based on the contributions received by the end of November 2020, the Commission will present in early 2021 an Action Plan that reflects contributions received throughout the consultation period, and will seek its endorsement at the highest political level.

As regards, more specifically, the COVID-19 emergency, the Commission has taken specific measures under the various Coronavirus Response Investment Initiatives, including the recent CRII+, aim at combating the COVID -19, to support health services, to protect our people and to sustain our economy. 

Both the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) need to protect our citizens and provide valuable support. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) also increases investment in health and social infrastructure as well as health equipment, which contributes to national, regional and local development, reducing inequalities in terms of health status.

In complementarity to the CRII response, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) has provided Member States with a non-exhaustive list of examples of operations that could be supported by the ESF, exclusively with a view to addressing the COVID-19 crisis. It is aimed at illustrating actions that in DG EMPL’s view could be relevant for the ESF support in the context of addressing the immediate challenges to the healthcare systems, reduced employment, but also increased risk of social exclusion.  These actions include the support to families in socio-economic vulnerable situations exacerbated by COVID-19 with socio-educational services, health and care services, or proximity services. The setting-up of mobile units or temporary healthcare facilities to contain the spread of contamination and treat patients on the spot or the support to families experiencing homelessness/housing exclusion, including counseling services to facilitate their access to healthcare and housing services, have also been suggested. Member States may wish to implement some of these actions, depending on their context, and in complementarity to any other national or regional measures already undertaken.

In addition to the above-mentioned initiatives, the Commission also adopted the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII Plus) Package, which includes a proposal for amending the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) and ERDF Regulations as well as FEAD Regulation. This package complements the first one by introducing extraordinary flexibility to allow that all non-utilised support from the European Structural and Investment Funds can be mobilised to the fullest. The amendment to the FEAD Regulation aims to ensure that the most deprived can continue to receive assistance by the Fund in a safe environment, including by enabling alternative methods of delivery and to enable the procurement of protective equipment for those delivering the aid.

 

April, 2020

 

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