Strengthening EU cohesion and EU social policy coordination with Art.9 TFEU

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Presentation by Dr Christoph LECHNER, EESC Member during the public hearing on Strengthening EU cohesion and EU social policy coordination through the new horizontal social clause in Article 9 TFEU on 13.04.2011

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Strengthening EU cohesion and EU social policy coordination with Art.9 TFEU

  1. 1. Strengthening EU cohesion and EU social policy coordination with Art.9 TFEU <ul><li>Own-initiative opinion of the SOC Section </li></ul><ul><li>Rapporteur: Mr Lechner </li></ul><ul><li>Public hearing 13 April 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>EESC </li></ul>
  2. 2. Contents <ul><li>Conclusions and recommendations (see pt. 5) </li></ul><ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>General comments </li></ul><ul><li>Specific comments </li></ul><ul><li>Further proposals for conclusions and recommendations </li></ul>
  3. 3. 2. Background <ul><li>2.1 Horizontal Social Clause (Art. 9 TFEU): </li></ul><ul><li>“ In defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health. ”  </li></ul><ul><li>2.2 Horizontal Social Clause (HSC) ties in with other horizontal clauses </li></ul><ul><li>on gender equality, combating discrimination, environmental protection, consumer protection (Art. 8-12 TFEU). </li></ul><ul><li>The EU and all its bodies have the obligation to apply these horizontal clauses in all proposals, policies and actions. </li></ul><ul><li>(including the EESC and the Member States) </li></ul>
  4. 4. 2.3 Aim of HSC: All EU's activities take account of the social dimension to achieve the fundamental values pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men (Art. 2 TEU).  2.4.1 EESC has to take into consideration the legally binding HSC and all other horizontal clauses in all of its opinions and other works , thus strengthening the social dimension of the EU 2.4.2 In the light of the Lisbon Treaty, the role of the EESC has also increased through the inclusion of a horizontal clause on the social impact of European policies.
  5. 5. <ul><li>2.5 EESC has already adopted a comprehensive opinion on the HSC and the open method of coordination (OMC), that effective and vigorous practical implementation of these horizontal clauses in shaping and implementing EU policies could significantly contribute to stronger EU cohesion and social policy coordination. </li></ul><ul><li>2.6 In 2010 conferences of the Belgian Presidency of the Council highlighted the importance of the horizontal social clause and of the social impact assessment systems (IAS) in the development of the social dimension in the EU. </li></ul><ul><li>HSC demands a structural dialogue across and within all EU institutions </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>2.7 Other mechanisms to improve social policy coordination and cooperation , alongside the HSC, include the OMC, taking account of </li></ul><ul><li>cohesion policy </li></ul><ul><li>social policy objectives of the EU and the Member States and </li></ul><ul><li>impact assessment system </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>2.8 IAS is a key tool in applying and implementing the HSC. </li></ul><ul><li>The Commission supports this with its own </li></ul><ul><li>guidelines on the IAS in the context of good governance and better and smart regulation. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>2.8.1 The Commission, Council and European Parliament have an inter-institutional agreement on IAS. </li></ul><ul><li>2.8.2 DG EMPL </li></ul><ul><li>guidelines on assessing social impacts and </li></ul><ul><li>plans 11 impact assessments for 2011 in the employment and social fields. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>2.8.3 The European Court of Auditors analysed the impact assessments for 2005-2008 and gave a positive assessment </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>2.8.4 Committee of the Regions cooperates with the Commission on certain IAS´s. </li></ul><ul><li>2.8.5 The Council has called on the Commission </li></ul><ul><li>to apply Art. 9 TFEU and the social IAS and </li></ul><ul><li>proposal 29 for the Single Market Act suggests conducting a social impact analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>2.8.6 Charter of Fundamental Rights </li></ul><ul><li>is systematically taken into consideration in the Commission's legislative proposals and </li></ul><ul><li>Commission presented a strategy for its implementation in 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>2.8.7 EESC has already adopted positive opinions on the introduction and application of impact assessments. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>3. General comments </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>3.1 Art. 9 TFEU is one of the Lisbon Treaty's main social policy innovations. </li></ul><ul><li>It provides a strong mandate to mainstream social protection and inclusion objectives in EU initiatives and policies. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>3.2 Art. 9 TFEU is particularly important according to the financial, economic and budgetary crisis in many EU Member States </li></ul><ul><li>balance between the development of economic integration in the Single Market and the further development of the social dimension of the EU is necessary. </li></ul><ul><li>implementation of HSC reduces long-standing discontent and overcomes increasingly wide scepticism in many Member States </li></ul>
  9. 9. 3.3 Member States have to apply the HSC when dealing with EU matters, supported through social IAS   3.4 Real participation by organised civil society at all stages and levels is essential to ensuring the effective use of the HSC. The EESC brings together the most important key EU stakeholders from all 27 MS and can make a significant contribution to promoting and optimising the IAS.   3.5 The EESC can help to develop and intensify social policy objectives in the Member States, by strengthening information sharing and cooperation with the economic and social councils (ESCs) and similar institutions in the Member States.
  10. 10. <ul><li>3.6 The European Parliament plays a major role </li></ul><ul><li>in the application of the HSC , amongst others </li></ul><ul><li>in evaluating the social impact assessments undertaken by the Commission and other EU institutions on an ongoing basis. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>3.7 The European Social Platform has an important part </li></ul><ul><li>to play in ensuring that the HSC is satisfactorily applied at EU and (sub-)national levels. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>3.8 EESC will systematically verify </li></ul><ul><li>in each opinion for the Commission or other EU bodies and </li></ul><ul><li>in its own-initiative opinions </li></ul><ul><li>an adequate impact assessment has been carried out </li></ul><ul><li>if it is necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Otherwise the EESC will take suitable measures to secure necessary IASs. </li></ul>
  11. 11. 4. Specific comments   4.1 Social policy provisions of the Lisbon Treaty (in particular Art. 145 to 166 and 168 TFEU) and Charter of Fundamental Rights (in particular Chapter IV on solidarity) give the HSC concrete form and must be fully respected when it is applied.   4.2 EESC will publish an annual opinion on the application of the social horizontal clause and its contribution to the social development of the EU on the basis of the Social Protection Committee's annual report on the social dimension of Europe 2020.
  12. 12. <ul><li>4.3 EESC and the ESCs and similar institutions in the Member States ought to play their part as stakeholders in the implementation of the HSC and social IAS by supporting European citizens' initiatives on social policy issues. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>4.4 EESC and the Commission should conclude an inter-institutional agreement specifying that the Commission shall forward all impact assessments on Commission dossiers to the EESC </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>4.5 Key social policy issues have to be taken into consideration in EESC's other sections for example: </li></ul><ul><li>social clauses in free trade agreements, </li></ul><ul><li>social dimension of the internal market, </li></ul><ul><li>sustainability impact assessments and EU trade policy. </li></ul>
  13. 13. 5. Further proposals for conclusions and recommendations   Independent academic contribution at the request of the EU Belgian Presidency:   5.1 Lisbon Treaty and the Europe 2020 Strategy provide a significant reinforcing balance between economic, employment and social objectives towards a stronger Social EU 5.2 Overall architecture of the new Europe 2020 EU socio-economic governance is the large field for applying the Horizontal Social Clause 5.3 Europe 2020 agenda in setting a social inclusion target, is highlighting three dimensions of poverty and exclusion.
  14. 14. <ul><li>5.4 New EU objective of &quot;territorial cohesion&quot; concentrates </li></ul><ul><li>cohesion funding on all Europe 2020 objectives and </li></ul><ul><li>ensures that the EU social objectives are fully taken into account in EU &quot;territorial&quot; policies and programs. </li></ul><ul><li>5.5 Translating the EU target into meaningful national </li></ul><ul><li>(and sub-national) targets is essential </li></ul><ul><li>5.6 The HSC requires the European Commission and EU countries to </li></ul><ul><li>mainstream the EU’s social objectives into policy-making and </li></ul><ul><li>carry out social impact assessments of all relevant policies </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>5.7 The European Commission should systematically strengthen the role of social evaluation within its Impact Assessment system </li></ul><ul><li>5.8 IA´s need to be a shift in the policy-making culture and it is important to promote the involvement of stakeholders in the process </li></ul><ul><li>5.9 Social Protection Committee (SPC) has a major role to play </li></ul><ul><li>in ensuring a strong social dimension for the Europe 2020 Strategy and </li></ul><ul><li>in implementing a more social EU </li></ul><ul><li>5.10 SPC will issue an annual report covering an assessment of the EU headline target on social inclusion and poverty reduction. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Thank you very much for your attention!

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