In 2017 the European Pillar of Social Rights was proclaimed at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth. The European Pillar has been put forward in several new directives to create a general framework. This means that many of the powers and tools are in the hands of Member States. Firstly, the questions arise whether this framework will lead to revolutionary new national measures concerning fair working conditions and social protection for workers that exercise their right to free movement and if it will restore the trust in national and European institutions. Secondly, the question needs to be asked whether this framework will lead to a renewed role for the unions. On the one hand the right to collective bargaining has been undermined, due to distrust by the public authorities, especially since the crisis. On the other hand, there is the issue of misrepresentation of workers. Since the changes in the labor market, the unions do not reflect the current international society.
Workers’ health protection is one of the major issues of EU-regulation. EU Social Pillar includes the right for employees all through the EU to a high level of protection of their health and safety at work. Also, EU law confirm that Workers have the right to a working environment adapted to their professional needs. The Directive 89/391/EEC on Safety and Health at Work created the basis for a strong harmonization. It is a good example of the harmonisation of social systems through article 151 TFEU. It shall be researched to what extent the large EU-case law with regard to this issue is effectively linked to the development of a common approach towards health and safety at the work in the EU. The credibility of EU-institutions has suffered with regard to the social policy due to the austerity measures and their impact on collective bargaining issues. A stronger social policy however can be targeted through the example of the EU-role with regard to health and safety at the workplace.
The EU-institutions and the Member States have promoted tools of cooperation both horizontally and vertically in the education area. The goals of these policies are to stimulate the development of a right to education that can allow the acquisition of new skills by EU citizens and educate the younger generations to the EU values and respect for the different cultural identities of Member States. The relevance of the right to education for the construction of the European identity is confirmed by art. 9 TFEU, art. 14 of the EUCFR and the Title XII of the TFUE. The European education system promotes student mobility and allows for constant dialogue between citizens, Member States and EU-institutions. However, the crisis has brought some changes to the mobility of EU students. Does the primary role of the student in developing trust both vertically and horizontally continue despite multiple EU crises? This is the question to be answered.
In 2016, the cities of Madrid, Brussels and Paris brought actions before the General Court asking for the annulment of a regulation on the Euro 6 emissions. It should be noted that it is not the first time that cities are involved in cases of European significance. Cities are able to fight for a better balance of economic rights (negative freedoms) with social or environmental rights (positive freedoms) in favor of urban citizens, such as Europeans or third countries, as residents or city-users. Aside from the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice, it is now possible to observe a sui generis EU policy in urban matters, thanks to the framework provided by the Urban Agenda for the EU (2016). This means that the EU recognizes cities and their networks as relevant actors in European governance and that “urban” and “integrated” sustainable development is a priority. This particular policy can help create a sense of belonging to a common set of values and principles.
The EU, together with the Member States, is experiencing an overlapping crisis situation: economic, environmental, political (in the populist drift), immigration and, now, also a health emergency. Do European welfare policies have the potential to strengthen trust in the EU project and, consequently, in the EU institutions? The challenges of globalization require greater coordination in precisely these areas (i.e. education, health, the labor market, sustainable development). Although there is less legislative and administrative integration and fewer European competences, what have been the results of the European jurisprudence on social rights in the last decades? What is the contribution of the EU legal system to the enjoyment of social rights? What are the implications of social policies for the idea of e European citizenship? The intervention will try to answer these questions through the prism of European social citizenship.