European Union ’empire should be disbanded’ says expert
The 11 EU nations, including Austria, Ireland and The Netherlands, have written a joint letter to the European Commission and highlighted concerns over proposed reforms on social policy. The statement comes ahead of a Social Summit of EU leaders in Portugal on May 7.
In the letter, the 11 member states call for powers to be taken away from Brussels and handed back to individual nations.
They raised particular concerns over the lack of control over domestic policy relating to the labour market, employment, education and pensions.
The statement warns the EU “should fully respect the division of competences of the Union, its Member States and the social partners”.
The document has been called a non-paper and has been issued on behalf of Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Eleven EU member states have sent a letter to the European Commission
Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa will host a social summit next month
Signatories of the letter include all members of the so-called Frugal Four, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The group is notorious for driving a hard bargain with the bloc when it comes to social and economic policy.
Most recently the four nations initially pushed back on the EU’s coronavirus rescue package, arguing the £676billion fund was too large and called for tougher fiscal controls.
The latest divisions within the bloc have been opened up after Brussels decided to press ahead with plans for social reforms, first proclaimed as the European Pillar of Social Rights in 2017.
Ursula von der Leyen is the President of the European Commission
Under the scheme, Brussels aims to set ambitious targets on employment, skills, and social protection for members to reach by 2030.
But, in the joint statement the 11 of the 27 member states have voiced concerns about a streamlined approach and urged the bloc to take into account each nations’ individual requirements.
It says: “Targeted EU-level action can complement national action, but – as underlined in the Strategic Agenda by the European Council and in the European Pillar of Social Rights – any action on EU-level should fully respect the division of competences of the Union, its Member States and the social partners.
“Any EU initiative in these areas should be in line with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and needs careful consideration of different national starting points, challenges and institutional set ups.
“Setting EU level headline targets could help to steer national debates, policies and reforms.”
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Portugal took over the rotating Presidency from Germany
The European Pillar of Social Rights consists of 20 guiding principles in order to create a “strong social Europe”.
It is based on three key chapters, they include equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions as well as social protection and inclusion.
The scheme also involves an Action Plan with progressive targets in order to speed up the process.
The European Commission has proposed three medium-term aims, dubbed “headline targets”.
They are to ensure at least 78 percent of people aged 20 to 64 are in employment.
It adds 60 percent of all adults should participate in training every year.
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And the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion should be reduced by at least 15 million
Portugal took over the six-month rotating Council Presidency from Germany in January.
Upon taking over from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa highlighted he would use the role and next month’s summit in Porto to help tackle inequality.
He said: “We need a common commitment to make the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality and that is why we intend to gather EU leaders, institutions, social partners and civil society at the Porto Social Summit.
“The social dimension of the EU is absolutely key to ensure that the double transition our societies need is fair and inclusive, leaving no one behind.”