Europe must rise to the challenge of a new era.  Faced with growing inequalities and many changes, from globalisation and economic uncertainty to digitisation and new technologies, we must embrace new opportunities but defend our values. This means securing and updating fundamental social standards for everyone. 

    The European social model is about your job, your #SocialRights and your future.   It’s about creating a fair and decent society where everyone is included. 

    The S&Ds have always fought for this and we’re leading the fight in the European Parliament to make it real – through a ‘European pillar of social rights’. We want to make sure this pillar is solid, with enforceable rights, fairer economic policies and properly funded public investments. 



We have 12 key proposals that should be included in this new social pillar:

  • A European directive on fair working conditions for all workers, ensuring a core set of enforceable labour rights, health insurance and social protection – even for those who work on temporary or on-demand contracts, in internships or as self-employed contractors for digital platforms. All these people need to make a decent living and need to be protected!
  • A ban on unpaid internships and on those which pay so little that workers can’t make ends meet.
  • A ban on zero-hour contracts. Some core working hours must be guaranteed to all workers - they can't be forced into permanent uncertainty!
  • Decent living wages. Every EU country should ensure a minimum wage of at least 60% of the average (median) national wage.
  • A European Child Guarantee in every EU country, so that every child in poverty has access to free healthcare, free education, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition.
  • A Youth Guarantee, making sure that everyone under 30 gets a good-quality offer of a job, internship, apprenticeship or training within four months of leaving education.
  • Housing support for young people setting up home and for everyone in need, including through more social housing and protection against eviction.
  • New and better laws on maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and carers’ leave to ensure equal opportunities, improve conditions for women in the labour market and allow us all to have a better work-life balance.
  • A Skills Guarantee as a new right for everyone to get fundamental skills for the 21st century, including digital literacy.
  • A 'silver rule' on social investment in the EU’s fiscal rules ensuring that key investments like programmes to reduce child poverty and improve public education and social housing are not restricted by limits on budget deficits and government debt.
  • Quality jobs as the first priority in the EU Investment Plan. The European Investment Bank is supported by taxpayers and should prioritise job creation over financial returns.
  • More money for existing EU funds helping with job-hunting, education, training, social inclusion and tackling poverty. In addition, two new tools should be added to the eurozone’s fiscal toolkit: a 'convergence fund' to repair the economies hit hardest by the eurozone crisis and a European unemployment insurance scheme, giving short-term support to national schemes in case of future shocks.


Health & Safety at work


Every worker has the right to a healthy and safe workplace, no matter the size of the employer, the contract or the place of employment. Safe workplaces are good for employees but also for businesses and the economy – fewer workplace accidents and diseases mean healthier and happier individuals, more work done in less time and more money saved for our healthcare systems.

That is why we are fighting to:

  • Update the directive on the protection of workers from exposure to substances which cause cancer and mutations in DNA and extend it to include substances harmful to reproduction. No one should have to risk their life at work!
  • Create a register of buildings and landfill sites containing asbestos across all EU countries so that no workers are put at risk.
  • Create a legal framework for occupational stress-related diseases such as depression, anxiety, fatigue and hypertension.
  • Introduce a directive on work-related musculoskeletal disorders such as back, neck or shoulder pain.


Fair Mobility in the EU

The freedom of movement of citizens and workers is a core European value, but it is also open to abuse by unscrupulous companies. There are many examples of construction workers being paid less than others just because they are from another member state or transport companies that force people into bogus self-employment to get around paying them sick pay, workplace accident insurance or pensions.

Unfair mobility leads to unfair competition that hurts both workers and law-abiding companies, and the EU is not doing enough to combat this.

We want to update the Directive on the posting of workers so that it includes:

  • A guarantee of equal pay for equal work at the same workplace, no matter the contract or type of worker. No more exploitation and undercutting of wages!
  • Safeguards for social partners – representation for employees and employers – and guarantees for the fundamental right to collective bargaining and collective action.
  • A clause ensuring that the most favourable terms and conditions of employment always apply for posted workers – be it the rules of the host member state or the rules of the home member state.
  • Clear provisions so that in cases where the posting is misused the rules of the host member state apply where they are favourable for the worker.

To make sure freedom of movement is fair, we also want to:

  • Tackle social dumping by giving the Commission the power to investigate cross-border cases of employers undercutting local wages and conditions and to penalise the companies involved.
  • Strengthen national labour inspection authorities so they can make sure companies follow European legislation.
  • Create a European labour inspectorate.
  • Close loopholes in the transport sector to make sure truck drivers, seafarers and flight personnel are treated fairly. For example, by setting up a European Road Transport Agency, making national labour legislation binding for airlines in the EU and implementing the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention.


Suitcase and passeport

Equal opportunities & work-life balance

The fight for equal opportunities is all about fairness. Is not only morally right, but also smart. We know that fair and equal societies are better prepared to face globalisation, digitisation and international crises.

Sadly, we have a long way to go: in Europe, many children grow up in poverty and women are much less likely have a job than men. This is unacceptable. Female under-employment is a waste of skills and potential, and child poverty robs many young people of their future.

In the S&D Group, we believe that both women and men should have the freedom to balance meaningful employment and family responsibilities.

We want the EU to co-operate with member states, trade unions, employers and civil society to:

  • Launch a European Child Guarantee to make sure that all children in the EU have access to free healthcare, free education, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition.
  • Launch programmes to help parents overcome social exclusion and get a decent job.
  • Update the Directive on paid maternity leave and improve conditions for pregnant workers.
  • Propose a new directive on paid paternity leave guaranteeing every father in Europe a minimum ten days off with their child.
  • Update the Directive on parental leave to help families care for their children.
  • Propose a directive on paid carer’s leave so that every employee has the right to time off to care for sick children, elderly relatives or other dependents in need, without having to worry about losing their income or pension rights.
  • Make sure that all proposals include equality between women and men, and encourage men to take an equal share of leave and caring responsibilities. Today the gender pay gap is still 16% and the gender pension gap is 39%, and gender equality is one of our key priorities. Find out more about our campaign: Our fight, women's rights

Trade Unions & Social Dialogue

When employees and employers meet as equals everyone benefits. For employees, social dialogue has helped improve wages and working conditions all over Europe. For businesses, collective bargaining means increased flexibility and more stability. For social dialogue to work, we need strong trade unions and strong employers’ organisations.

We believe the EU has an important role in making sure employees can participate in the decisions that concern them. We want to strengthen European social dialogue and help create an environment where national social-dialogue systems can flourish. The unionisation of workers and the participation of employees in company matters are essential.

We are pushing for the EU to:

  • Strengthen the role of social dialogue in the ‘European Semester’. Trade unions need to have a say when the EU recommends reforms to member states!
  • Stop interfering in collective bargaining between trade unions and employers. The real experts on wages are the social partners, not the Commission!
  • Restore collective bargaining systems in the countries that were forced to decentralise collective bargaining to have access to financial assistance and economic adjustment programmes.
  • Introduce a framework to guarantee employees’ rights during workplace restructuring, including the right to be informed and consulted when a business closes down.
  • Take EU-level social dialogue seriously – for example by moving forward with the social partners’ framework agreement on health and safety in hairdressing.
  • Update the European Works council Directive to increase employee participation in company decision-making.


Education & Training Opportunities

Unemployment in the EU is too high and one of the biggest threats to stability on our continent. We need to end austerity and invest in public schools and universities.  We need to make sure everyone has equal opportunities and security in a rapidly changing labour market: whether you’re a truck driver who wants to teach languages or an unemployed 22-year-old who wants to learn coding.

The S&D Group’s priorities are:

  • Free access to high-quality public education, including tertiary education, as well as quality early childcare.
  • Increasing the public education budget and setting quality targets and benchmarks for an inclusive education system that ensures equality, non-discrimination and civic competences.
  • More investment in the Youth Guarantee to make sure that all young Europeans get a real chance in life.
  • Raising the age limit of the Youth Guarantee from 25 to 30.
  • Increased funding for the Erasmus+ programme to promote inclusive learning and create more learning and training opportunities for young people, educators, volunteers, apprentices, interns and young workers.
  • Making the Skills Guarantee a new right so that everyone can learn the skills needed for the labour market – today and tomorrow!
  • EU minimum standards for internships with decent pay, clear time limits and links to educational programmes to end exploitation.


Take Action!

We're fighting for these rights in the European Parliament, but we can't do it without you!

Here are some easy steps you can take to join our fight for #SocialRights in Europe:

  • Join our campaign! Follow our activities on Facebook and Twitter and share this site with people you know and tell them why you think a socially just European Union is worth fighting for.
  • Get in touch with your local party or your S&D MEP and share your concerns and ideas.
  • Join a trade union and get involved.
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