Written by Nora Milotay,
The paper on the EU’s social dimension, the first of five papers within the white paper process, is the European Commission’s contribution to a debate among the leaders of the 27 Member States (other than the UK), EU institutions, social partners and citizens on two major issues in the social and employment fields: the main challenges that Member States are facing and the added value of the various EU instruments available to tackle them. By the end of the process the EU should have a clear mandate from the Member States on the areas it should be tackling and on the extent of their commitment to working together. The results should feed into a document setting out practical measures for moving ahead, in time for the December 2017 European Council.
The concepts ‘social dimension’ and ‘social Europe’ are interpreted in diverse ways across the EU and most of the competence developed over the past 60 years to implement policies remains with the Member States. In this context the Commission is proposing three alternative scenarios: an exclusive focus on the free movement of workers, development of a multispeed Europe, and genuine deepening of economic and monetary union across the EU-27. The successful implementation of the European pillar of social rights and related initiatives will depend a great deal on the outcome of this reflection process. The European Parliament has put forward several ideas on how to strengthen the social dimension of the European project, including by linking economic and social governance more closely, and increasing budgetary capacity so as to move towards upward convergence.
This briefing is one in a series on the European Commission’s reflection papers following up the March 2017 White Paper on the future of Europe.
Read this briefing on ‘Reflection paper on the social dimension of the EU‘ in PDF.