In a vote on Tuesday, MEPs of the Social Affairs and Employment committee have reiterated the importance of the social dimension in this year’s Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy.

The European Semester process should equally focus on social sustainability as it does on economic and environmental sustainability, MEPs say. This should also be the case for the new Recovery and Resilience Facility which is linked to this year’s European semester process. National reform priorities should be based on solidarity, integration, social justice and a fair distribution of wealth, they add.

Employment

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic – which has resulted in a decrease of the number of persons at work and a reduction of the number of hours worked for those that are employed – has made tackling unemployment in the European semester even more important. MEPs say. In the report, MEPs call on the Commission and the Member States to develop a quality employment package, which includes among other things legislative initiatives aimed at improving wages and protecting decent working conditions for all.

Recovery and Resilience plans

The pandemic has also exacerbated health and social inequalities and consequently the poverty rate is predicted to increase. In the national Recovery and Resilience plans that are currently developed, social progress reports should be included and member states should provide a detailed explanation of how the plan contributes to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR). MEPs underline that to adequately monitor this process, there should be indicators for quality employment, upward social convergence, education and skills, and investing in health, nutrition and housing for children and youth.  The reported was adopted by 40 votes in favour, 7 against and 8 abstentions.

The Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS) is the yearly kick-off of the European Semester Cycle. This year the ASGS is accompanied by a strategic guidance of the Recovery and Resilience Facility that provides 672.5 billion euro in loans and grants. The European Pillar of Social Rights is included in the ASGS, urging member states to adopt measures that ensure equal opportunities, inclusive education, fair working conditions and adequate social protection.                                                                                                      This year’s ASGS and the economic governance in the EU were discussed this week by MEPs and members of national parliaments in the European Parliamentary Week.