EPRSLibrary By / October 6, 2013

The social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union

Updated on 30 October 2013 In response to the economic crisis, a number of EU-level measures have been taken in…

© calvste / Fotolia

Updated on 30 October 2013

The social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union
© calvste / Fotolia

In response to the economic crisis, a number of EU-level measures have been taken in the last five years to reinforce economic governance and  improve the functioning of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

With the aim of further deepening social and economic integration in the euro area, the European Commission put forward a proposal to strengthen the social pillar of the EMU.

The suggested initiatives are in line with the Commission’s vision for a deep and genuine EMU and aim to facilitate the mobility of workers, involve social partners in the European Semester process and, by using a scoreboard of key indicators, better monitor and coordinate employment and social policies in the Member States.

The Commission’s proposal was endorsed by the June European Council and debated at the October Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting. Further discussions will follow later this year.

Tripartite Social Summit, held on 24 October 2013, was also dedicated to this issue.

In this Library Keysource we have selected recent articles, analysis, stakeholder opinions and legislative procedures related to the Commission’s communication


 Eurozone “social dimension” to be limited to a scoreboard / Craig Willy, DPA Insight, 10 October 2013 This article gives a short summary of the Commission’s proposal and positions of the European Parliament (EP) and other stakeholders. It also presents the views of some economists.

Commission floats ‘ideas’ to deepen the EU’s social side, EurActiv, Published 02 October 2013, updated 03 October 2013 The proposed measures to deepen the social dimension of the (EMU) are listed in the article together with some EP positions. Academics sceptical of EU’s “social dimension“, DPA Insight EU, 10 October 2013 What has the EU done so far to combat poverty, increase employment and protect labour rights? This article reports on a conference, entitled “Restoring socio-economic convergence” on 10 October 2013, organised by the European Commission.

Developing the social dimension of a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union / László Andor, EPC Policy Brief, 13 September 2013, 4 p. Commissioner Andor gives some background information on current issues related to the EMU and introduces the Commission’s proposal.


The Euro crisis and its impact on national and European social policies / Christophe Degryse, Maria Jepsen, Philippe Pochet,  ETUI Working paper 2013.05, October 2013, 44 p. The working paper describes how the euro crisis and the new economic governance measures impact European and national social models.

Paper on automatic stabilisers / Robert Strauss, European Commission, October 2013, 54 p. Three unemployment-related automatic stabilisers are compared in this paper, one on the concept of a European unemployment benefit system (UBS).

A social dimension for the EMU: why and how? / Sofia Fernandes, Kristina Maslauskaite, Policy Brief 98, Notre Europe, September 2013, 16 p. An analysis of why a social dimension is necessary for the good functioning of the EMU and recommendations on how to improve its functionality, legitimacy and social governance.

A Concept For Deepening The Social Dimension Of the European Union / Frank Bsirske, Klaus Busch, Social Europe Journal, 14/08/2013 Building on ideas from the Social Compact for Europe (ETUC 2012), the authors present a set of indicators which can be used for strengthening policy coordination in the field.

Data sources for the timely monitoring of the social situation in EU Member States / Paul Minty and Isabelle Maquet-Engsted, European Commission, Working Paper 2/2013, July 2013, 75 p. The paper draws attention to some existing problems in collecting timely data on social developments and reviews the social situation in eight Member States particularly affected by the economic crisis.

Monetary union and the stakes for democracy and social policy / Philippe Pochet,  Christophe Degryse, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, February 2013, vol. 19, no. 1, p. 103-116 The authors of this article argue that social union and economic and monetary union are firmly connected and this fact has to be taken into account in the debate on the future of the Europe Union.

Solidarity: For Sale? / Europe in Dialogue, Bertelsmann-Stiftung, February 2012/01, 156 p. Compilation of six articles discussing the importance of social cohesion in the European Union at the time of economic and social crisis. A summary of contributions by the main European think-tanks to the debate on the future of the EMU is also included. Reconstructing the Eurozone: The Role of EU Social Policy / John Grahl, Paul Teague, Cambridge Journal Of Economics, May 2013, Vol. 37, No. 3, p. 677-692 Only abstract is available for free The article shows how EU social policies can support the monetary union in Europe.

Stakeholder views

Social dimension of EU/EMU, BUSINESSEUROPE, 24 October 2013, 9 p. Contribution to the debate on the social dimension of European integration and the future of EMU from a business point of view.

Europe needs a social response – Will the EU meet the challenge?, Press release No. 64/213, EESC Statement by representatives of civil society on the importance of responding to the social and democratic crisis in Europe. Commissioner Andor wants results of Social Scoreboard addressed through European Semester, Social Platform, 14 October 2014 A short report on the Annual Meeting between the EU Commissioner for employment and social affairs and members of Social Platform (the platform of European Social NGOs). Participants discussed the Commission’s proposal as well as Social Platform’s position on the Social Scoreboard and evaluation of the 2013 European Semester. Reality of “anti-social” agenda behind Commission’s social dimension compromise / Carola Fischbach-Pyttel, European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), 14 October 2013 Criticising the Commission’s approach concerning the consequences of the crisis and austerity measures, the letter draws attention to the need for using other indicators and for having a real social dialogue on social issues.

Roadmap to a social Europe / edited by Anne-Marie Grozelier, Social Europe Report, October 2013, 160 p. This e-book, with contributions from trade union leaders, makes an attempt to stimulate the discussion on Social Europe and lists policy actions to improve the social dimension of European integration.

EMU: Binding Social Indicators Necessary To Promote Active Inclusion, SOLIDAR, 7 October 2013 SOLIDAR stresses that indicators in the scoreboard should be binding and lists a set of important measures to fight exclusion and social injustice in the Member States.

The European Semester should rebalance social and economic objectives to achieve inclusive growth and ensure decent living for people of all ages, AGE Platform Europe, 7 October 2013 According to this opinion, further steps are needed to coordinate employment and social policies within the European Semester and Europe 2020 framework.

Communication on the Social Dimension of the EMU “Social indicators must be binding” says ETUC, Press release, ETUC, 2 October 2012 The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) welcomes the Commission’s proposal and underlines the importance of involving social partners in the decision-making process. See also ETUC’s position on this initiative adopted by the Executive Committee Meeting of 23 April 2013.

For a social dimension of the European Economic and Monetary Union, European Economic and Social Committee, CESE 1566/2013 – SC/038, Rapporteur: Luca Jahier The opinion proposes two new initiatives: European Social Bonds and European Education Network for Unemployed Workers.


Key facts and figures: EU Employment and Social Situation – Special Edition: Annual Review, European Commission, September 2013 Statistical annex to the main publication with a long-term overview and analysis of the key features of employment and social developments in the European Union.

Related legislative procedures

Resolution on future legislative proposals on EMU: response to the Commission communications, 2013/2609(RSP)

Resolution on the Commission communication ‘Towards social investment for growth and cohesion – including implementing the European Social Fund 2014-2020′, 2013/2607(RSP)

Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union, 2012/2151(INI)

Strengthening the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union, COM(2013)0690

Parliamentary debate

Social pillar of the economic and monetary union (debate), 22 May 2013, Strasbourg

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