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Principle 12

Social protection

The impact assessment of the proposal for a Recommendation on Access to Social Protection aptly describes the challenges behind Principle 12. ETUC made a case for social protection in the 2019 EU Semester providing evidence of the biased approach of the EU, which takes sustainability of national systems as the main, and often, only, policy objective of country specific recommendations.

In four years’ time, an impact assessment should draw conclusions on whether a Recommendation is the appropriate tool to obtain this objective or whether a Directive would be more suitable.

Access to social protection is strongly correlated with quality of employment. That is why this principle will need to be consistent with Principle 5. As regards social protection, the following items should be monitored:

  • coverage and adequacy of social protection benefits, irrespective of the form of employment;
  • guarantee of effective minimum protection for all;
  • the balance trade-off between employment flexibility features and access, duration and level of social protection benefits;
  • the employment levels of the workforce;
  • set adequate benefits (especially for pensions);
  • improve access to training for workers;
  • effective work-life balance instruments;
  • ensure access to health care and prevent injuries at work.
  • gaps due to professional careers, in case of long periods of unemployment, especially gaps that are gender-based or age-based, or stemming from precarious forms of employment.

Other elements can be investigated through social dialogue, such as the future of work, including protection against unfair dismissals, the right to full-time employment and working time sovereignty.

Actions aimed at setting a minimum floor of rights in the EU, a level playing field in the Single Market

  1. Implementation of the Recommendation on Access to Social Protection. Priorities: extending formal (mandatory) and effective coverage, effectiveness and adequacy of benefit to employed and self-employed workers.

Actions aimed at establishing upward convergence in living and working conditions

  1. Social Protection Scoreboard – Upward convergence with targets, as part of the Quality Jobs Programme.