The Social Summit in Porto took place on 7th May 2021. In a joint Declaration, the EU’s Heads of State and Government promised to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan (EPSR) and committed themselves to reduce inequalities, to combat poverty and discrimination, to increase employment and to support fair wages.
With their Porto Declaration, the Heads of State and Government agreed in particular on the three targets named in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan – employment, training and combating poverty:
- At least 78 percent of people aged 20 to 64 should be in employment.
- At least 60 percent of all adults should participate in training every year.
- The number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion should be reduced by at least 15 million.
Apart from that, it has to be regarded as positive that in the future the focus will no longer be only on GDP as an economic indicator, but also on social and environmental indicators, which emphasise people’s wellbeing. Here, the Member States followed a joint demand of the European social partners.
The clear commitment of Commission President von der Leyen on the issue of “full employment” is also to be welcomed. Von der Leyen stated at the summit: “Europe's social targets must go hand in hand with its green and digital targets. We want to get closer to full employment, more Europeans to have access to the skills they need and ensure equal opportunities for all Europeans in a more digital and sustainable economy.”
By issuing the Porto Declaration, the Heads of State and Government also confirmed the further EPSR legislative agenda. This provides for important projects to be achieved in 2021, among other with regards to platform work, corporate responsibility, housing/homelessness, health and safety at work as well as the social economy.
Disagreement over Minimum Wage Directive and Gender Equality
Even though the Heads of State and Government have signed the Porto Declaration, there had also been disagreement ahead of the Summit, in particular regarding the EU Minimum Wage Directive. Austria’s Chancellor Kurz and Labour Minister Kocher, who attended the Summit, once again opposed the Directive. In contrast, Social Minister Mückstein, who did not participate in the Summit, signed a joint letter of EU Green Ministers, supporting the Minimum Wage Directive. EU Social Commissioner Schmit expects agreement regarding the Minimum Wage Directive to be reached under the Portuguese Presidency. However, should no agreement be achieved, he also has a Plan B, which provides for agreement under the French Presidency 2022.
A low point of the Summit was the blockade of Poland and Hungary on the issue of Gender Equality, as a result of which one passage in the Declaration has to be reworded.
Presidents Anderl and Katzian: call for a social realignment
Ahead of the EU Social Summit, AK EUROPA, the ÖGB Europabüro and the European Trade Union Confederation hosted an online event with AK President Renate Anderl and ÖGB President Wolfgang Katzian.
In a joint letter to Chancellor Kurz, both Presidents underlined the fact that the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan represents a chance for a trend reversal towards a solidary social Union. Hence, it is necessary for these initiatives to be supported also by the Austrian Federal Government. It is of vital importance – according to Anderl and Katzian – that Austria too actively supports important legislative acts for a social Europe, with the European Minimum Wage Directive and the Pay Transparency Directive leading the way. In view of the imminent debate on Europe’s future, AK and ÖGB call for courageous and decisive action to also address the weaknesses in the Union’s current legal structure and to support important reform projects to make Europe fitter for the future.
AK/ÖGB Letter on the Social Summit (german only)