The Pillar is designed as a compass for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe. It is primarily conceived for the euro area but applicable to all EU Member States wishing to be part of it. The Pillar sets out 20 key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems, which are structured around three categories:
◾equal opportunities and access to the labour market
◾fair working conditions
◾social protection and inclusion
A number of principles and rights included in the Pillar will require further legislative initiatives to become effective. Where needed, existing EU law will be updated, complemented and better enforced.
Already today, the European Commission flanks the European Pillar of Social Rights with a number of further concrete legislative and non-legislative initiatives such as on the work-life balance of parents and carers, on the information of workers, and on access to social protection and on working time.
A social scoreboard is also established to track trends and performances across EU countries in 12 areas and to assess progress towards a social "triple A" for the EU as a whole. This analysis will feed into the European Semester of economic policy coordination.
The Pillar should serve to re-start the process of convergence within the Economic and Monetary Union and some of the principles and rights could act as guidance towards more binding standards for the euro area. Further EU legislative or non-legislative initiatives may follow in the future as part of the annual Commission Work Programmes. The European funds, in particularly the European Social Fund, will also provide financial support to implement many key aspects of the Pillar.
The Pillar is presented today under two legal forms with identical content: as a Commission Recommendation, effective as of today, and as a proposal for a joint proclamation by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission. On this basis, the Commission will now enter into discussions with the European Parliament and the Council to work towards broad political support and high-level endorsement of the Pillar.