Politics & Economics

The Social Pillar at risk: Letta’s work and Schmit’s warnings for the next EU tenure

May 2024
By Editorial Staff

The social pillar at the center, both of the single market and of the forthcoming holding of European institutions. This was the warning issued by Enrico Letta and Nicolas Schmit, -Commissioner for Job and Social Rights (now Spitzenkandidat for the Socialists&Democrats group), during the event organized by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies on April 30th.

He aimed to launch a concrete message to the citizens, in the wake of the European Elections. “People are wise. They understand that if Europe is not social, their national states will in many aspects be under pressure not to be so social”, he added, calling out the aired possibility of an alliance between EPP and ECR. “They give up all kinds of standards of decency in politics. And they do not care about families. They do not care about people. They just want to destroy”.

The focal point of the conference was all about balancing social rights with the purposes of the Single Market and the necessity for a more competitive Europe, especially with the instability coming from the United States’ uncertain political future and China’s overwhelming leverage on strategic sectors. But, in his view, competitiveness doesn’t mean a complete disregard for the social side of the economy. “I have never heard somebody say ‘well, we consider that economy should not be competitive’ -he said- But the point is, can we all agree about what competitiveness means? And for some people, competitiveness means less social protection, less social regulation which creates the conditions to have decent work, to have quality jobs”.

The Social Pillar, together with the obvious economic dimension, was at the center of Enrico Letta’s Single Market report, in his words “a point of substance, and not of method”. He conceived his work as something that could talk not only to policy-makers and institutions but to citizens. “This report could be a success only if it says something interesting to citizens”. “Politics, for me, is a collective journey”, said Letta in this regard. “We have to talk with the rest of the European spectrum, political spectrum, otherwise the rest will be attracted by the abstention or would be attracted by those who are against Europe”.

Helping the economy is the reason why Letta worked on this report, but this should not leave aside the people who live inside this framework. This is why, while talking about the Single Market, he underlined the necessity to work towards an economy that can help both the ones who want to search for different opportunities abroad, but also the ones who love their countries and want to stay. “We want to Europe in which if you want to stay, you have to stay and you can stay”. But at the same time, a social Single Market protects small businesses and companies that struggle with the fragmented bureaucracies and systems of different national entities. “This large part of our economy has many problems with the Single Market because a single market means 27 different corporate laws and 27 taxation systems”.

To cut a long story short, on the road to the new tenure of the European Parliament, the Progressive wing of Europe strongly advocates for a strong and competitive economy. This is without abstracting it from the social pillar that keeps a positive productive context tied to the well-being of the people who support it.