CECOP demands end to European austerity to strengthen Pillar of Social Rights

The co-op confederation says investment is needed if the policy to support labour markets and welfare systems is to succeed

The European confederation of worker, social and producers’ co-operatives active in industry and services, CECOP, is calling for an end to austerity programmes across the continent.

The confederation, which includes over 50,000 co-operative and participative enterprises in industry and services, says investment is crucial for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. CECOP believes austerity programmes contradict the pillar by cutting social security spending, public investment and active labour market policies.

The pillar sets out key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems. While mainly conceived for the Eurozone states, it is applicable to all EU member states wishing to participate.

CECOP welcomed the pillar and said co-operatives were helping in the implementation of the pillar by contributing to equal opportunities and access to labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion.

“Their contribution was recognised by the European Parliament Resolution of 19 January 2017 on a European Pillar of Social Rights,” said CECOP’s statement.

“However, we are concerned that without clear investment instruments, many measures set out in the pillar will go unheeded. The pillar’s implementation is in blatant contradiction with austerity programmes leading to cuts in social security spending, public investment and active labour market policies, all of which are indispensable elements for making the pillar effective.”

The confederation also raised concerns over the non-binding nature of the pillar, as well as the distinction being made between Eurozone and non-Eurozone citizens. “At a time when there is a marked increase in Eurosceptic tendencies, the EU cannot afford to widen socio-economic inequalities among Europeans”, said CECOP president Giuseppe Guerini.

CECOP pointed out that co-ops were contributing to the principles and rights enshrined in the pillar by providing equal opportunities, equal treatment regarding working conditions and creating and protecting jobs through employee take-overs. Some social co-ops also specialise in the inclusion of disadvantaged groups or the provision of long-terms care. The full position is available online.

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