Juncker’s Commission: strong on economics, soft on social?

EU economic integration will be an overarching principle of the new European Commission, with all portfolios revolving around it. However, I feel that efforts to alleviate what was described as a “social emergency” by the previous Commission did not get the same boost in the new list of priorities.

The new legislative and political initiatives of the Commission are economically oriented. For example, in the first three months the President-elect wants several Commissioners to present a “jobs, growth and investment package”. He also wants “legislative and non-legislative initiatives to deepen our economic and monetary unions and a regulatory framework to ensure the resilience and stability of the financial services sector”. These are new initiatives and they have to be frontloaded now.

When it comes to the social field, it is not as easy to pinpoint initiatives that will boost the social dimension of the European project. The anti-discrimination directive has been on the negotiating table since 2008. It would be great if we could finally get it adopted, but it is by no means a new initiative. Ensuring that every Commission proposal complies with the Charter of Fundamental Rights is a Treaty obligation. Again, this is a great step, and indeed our member ILGA-Europe welcomed it, but it is certainly not new. There will also be the accession to the European Convention on Human Rights which was progressed during the Barroso II mandate. I did not find in the President-elect's mission letter to the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility any mention of the need to work towards consensus on minimum wage and minimum income, despite his vow to push forward these initiatives in his address to the European Parliament on July 15. Let’s hope he does not backtrack on the opportunity to take this huge step forward in the social field.

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Let's engage,
Pierre Baussand