In 2015, Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, introduced the Commission proposal for an EU Pillar of Social Rights.
The preliminary draft, completed in March 2016, outlines far-reaching proposals including the right to minimum income, rights during probationary employment, and protection from termination without reasonable cause. Since then, the Commission has held consultations with national authorities, labour market parties, civic society, and the public.
The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise sees these proposals intrude on national rights to decide certain issues, which threatens the Swedish model. Employers see the primary cause of Member States’ social problems as the lack of competitiveness rather than any lack of regulatory controls.
Sverker Rudeberg, Policy Head for EU Labour Market Issues represented the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise at the recently concluded European conference on the Pillar of Social Rights.
“Employers believe in the EU and in the Single Market. But they feel EU rules should only supplement Member States’ regulation in regard labour market issues. Companies contribute to EU citizens’ prosperity by creating growth and jobs. Social problems in the EU do not result from a lack of labour market regulation, but rather from weak international competition. Therefore, stricter labour laws and more social security regulation means taking a completely wrong approach.
These issues will be the topic at an informal summit the EU Commission is planning in Gothenburg on 17 November, where heated discussions regarding the Pillar of Social Rights can be expected.
Instead of more regulation on the EU level, the greatest immediate need is for structural reforms within Member States and that the States actually apply the regulation already in place, contends Mr. Rudeberg.
He emphasizes that national social systems must be reformed to meet the current economic and social climate. “The EU can contribute by supporting these efforts. It should also be able to provide benchmarking in certain areas, without necessarily having to reinvent the wheel more than once, by respecting the position of labour market parties, as in salary formation. More importantly, the EU must respect subsidiarity and the differences between Member States, as in social security issues,” he concludes.