IPSE and ESS France have seized the European Commission’s public consultation on the strengthening of the European Pillar of Social Rights by creating and coordinating a coalition made up of social and solidary protection actors, called:



For Social Europe to finally become a concrete reality,
Because social protection must now be understood in a broad sense,


ACT 4 SOCIAL EU is mobilising for the full recognition and acknowledgement of its actors, for the broadening of the EU’s social governance, and for the establishment of an ambitious Social Deal in the aftermath of an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis. Gathering a large diversity of social economy actors, united by solidarity and limited profitability, at the service of the general interest, ACT 4 SOCIAL EU is sustainably committed to bringing the voice of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) actors working for social protection and solidarity to the heart of the European institutions. In other words, the Coalition of SSE enterprises is calling on the European Commission in the framework of its consultation on the Pillar of social rights and is mobilising to launch Act 4 of Social Europe!


Acts 1, 2, 3 and now Act 4…what are we referring to in Europe’s social history?


From the Treaty of Rome to the present day, it is only very gradually that social policy has become an integral component of the European project. Initially thought of as an automatic by-product of the economic integration and growth that was supposed to accompany it, the social question became a matter of concern with the end of The Glorious Thirty and the economic boom that accompanied them.


After three acts that laid the foundations of the European social acquis throughout the history of its construction, it is time to go further for concrete and effective solidarity.


ACT 1 – From the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) to the end of The Glorious Thirty: Peace in Europe requires economic cooperation, a social Europe requires full employment


  • Although the ECSC had a social component since 1951, the main aim was to guarantee to Member States that social instruments do not hinder sustainable economic cooperation by means of indirect competition.
  • If the crIeation of the European Social Fund in 1957 guaranteed new protections for certain workers, it was also a question of supporting strategic economic sectors that had been weakened.
  • If the period was marked by the development of national social protection systems in the absence of a common social policy, as well as by notable social advances (coordination of European social security systems, the possibility for every European worker to have access to quality social protection in any European Economic Community country where he or she is located, etc.), these were primarily oriented towards the free movement of workers.
  • These few social advances came to a halt with the end of The Glorious Thirty marked by a major crisis of the welfare state.

Key dates:


  • 1957: Creation of the European Social Fund (ESF), an instrument to support employment and economic and social cohesion.
  • 1971: Regulation on the coordination of European social security systems.
  • 1975: European Directive to promote equal pay for men and women.

ACT 2 – From Delors to Junker: Real ambitions…coming up against reality


For some, the Delors years are considered to be the Golden Age of Social Europe (social dialogue, desire to promote a minimum set of social rights at the Community level, etc.). The reality appears nevertheless more nuanced. This is because:

  • While the establishment of tripartite social dialogue and the desire to promote a minimum set of social rights at Community level are important markers, the non-binding legal dimension reduces their scope
  • .While the Single Act in 1986 changed the unanimity rule in favour of qualified majority voting in the European Council, questions relating to the social protection of workers or collective representation were excluded and the Maastricht Treaty officially enshrined the principle of subsidiarity at Community level, thus permanently compromising any upward harmonisation of social standards in the EU.
  • If the Treaties of the 2000s (Treaties of Amsterdam, Nice, Lisbon) reaffirmed the social objectives of the Union, the then governments of the Member States were a significant obstacle to their realisation and during this period, strong criticism emerged on the decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on social dumping.

Key dates:

  • 1985: Val-Duchesse Agreements (Belgium), first draft for the establishment of a tripartite social dialogue in the EU. Since then, the European social dialogue has been the source of 200 framework agreements.
  • 1989: Adoption of the European Charter of Fundamental Social Rights.
  • 1993: The Social Protocol, annexed to the Maastricht Treaty, authorises the EU Council to establish minimum standards on gender equality, equality between women and men, and the protection of the environment, health at work, integration of people excluded from the labour market.

ACT 3 – Proclamation of the European Social Rights Pillar: an upturn for Social Europe?


The entry into office of the Junker Commission (2014) introduced a new deal in social matters. Indeed, the Junker Commission intended to give Europe back its “Social Triple A” at the end of a financial crisis that caused a significant increase in inequalities in Europe. At the end of 2016, the Commission launched tripartite negotiations (Member States, Commission, social partners) to develop a minimum framework of social rights in the EU. Proclaimed at the Gothenburg Social Summit in 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights comprises 20 principles based on three pillars: Equal opportunities and access to the labour market; Fair working conditions; Social protection and inclusion.

Although legally non-binding, the adoption of the Pillar is the foundation of a positive dynamic in terms of social rights in the Union: revision of the directive on posted work (2018), Directive on work-life balance (2019).




The European Pillar of Social Rights was an essential step which must now be strengthened, in the context of an unprecedented crisis. We need to go further!

  • Because sustainable development cannot be achieved without real social progress, it is urgent to build, alongside the Green Deal, a robust and ambitious Social Deal that will make Europe a model and ambassador for social rights.
  • Because there can be no democratic governance of the European Union without the voice of its citizens, there is an urgent need to act in favour of a more open governance by giving a reinforced and transparent place to social and civil dialogue.
  • Because they contribute massively to the realisation of a Social Europe, it is urgent to recognize the SSE enterprises, grouped within Social Economy Europe, as major contributors to Social Europe and the general interest.
     Because SSE enterprises are a major player in Social Europe, it is now urgent to involve them in the responsible and sustainable development of the sectors of activity that give concrete expression to the European Pillar of social rights.

This is what we, the actors of the “ACT 4 FOR SOCIAL EU” Coalition, which brings together SSE enterprises working in the field of social solidarity protection, are determined to do in the months and years to come. Our proposals are strong, as is our determination.