CECOP is the European Confederation of worker, social and producer co-operatives active in industry and services. It includes organisations from 15 different countries which affiliate over 50,000 co-operatives and participative enterprises.
It said the Pillar means that EU institutions and heads of state had given a strong message of hope to European citizens.
“Co-operatives in industry and services particularly hail the recognition that economic and social progress are intertwined and hope to see a drastic shift of EU policies towards encouraging investment, including social investment, rather than putting austerity pressure on member states,” a CECOP statement said.
“Being essential allies given their contribution to a competitive economy aimed at quality employment and social progress, co-operatives in industry and services expect to see the Pillar’s principles and rights legally enforceable through the adoption of concrete implementation measures or legislation.”
In an earlier position paper published in May, CECOP highlighted that the Pillar was not binding, which made it raise concerns about the level of commitment made by different member states. The organisation also regretted that no incentives for investment were foreseen and distinctions were made between Eurozone and non-Eurozone citizens.
The position paper points out how co-ops in industry and services contribute to creating equal opportunities and access to the labour market, providing fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion.
The Pillar aims to contribute to social progress by supporting fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems. To achieve this it sets out 20 principles and rights, divided into three categories: equal opportunities and access to labour market, dynamic labour markets and fair working conditions, public support/social protection and inclusion.
Signing the proclamation on behalf of the Council, the Prime Minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas said: “The Social Pillar captures what Europe believes in. We want a Europe that tackles unemployment, poverty, and discrimination, a Europe that gives equal opportunities to the young and vulnerable. The Social Pillar builds on our common values and will guide our future work for a fairer Europe.”
European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “This is a landmark moment for Europe. Our Union has always been a social project at heart. It is more than just a single market, more than money, more than the euro. It is about our values and the way we want to live.”
He added: “The Pillar – and Europe‘s social dimension as a whole – will only be as strong as we allow it to be. This is a joint responsibility and it starts at national, regional and local level, with a key role for social partners and civil society. Therefore, while fully respecting and embracing the different approaches which exist across Europe, we all now need to turn commitments into action. Europeans deserve nothing less.”