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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan

European Commission (
Intergovernmental organization

    The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 17 November 2017. The Pillar sets out 20 key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets, structured around three chapters: • equal opportunities and access to the labour market, • fair working conditions, • social protection and inclusion. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, committed to the Pillar in her speech before the European Parliament in Strasbourg in July 2019 and in her political guidelines, announcing further actions to implement the principles and rights.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    Delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights is a shared political commitment and responsibility of the European Union's institutions, national, regional and local authorities, social partners and civil society, all having a role to play in line with their competences. The EU will support this effort with all the available instruments: financial support via a several EU funds to invest in fair recovery and the twin green and digital transitions; fostering the engagement of all actors; providing guidance and coordination of national economic and social policies via the European Semester; enforcing EU law; and leveraging its role as a global leader. The European Commission encourages all the relevant actors to make best use of the instruments available to accelerate the implementation of the Social Pillar. Member States should make the best use of the European relevant well-established frameworks to coordinate economic, employment and social reforms and investments, putting people and their well-being and environment at the centre. Since 2018, the principles of the Pillar are mainstreamed across the entire European Semester cycle. Member States should report on the implementation of the Pillar in their National Reform Programmes. The country-specific recommendations – based on the four dimensions of environmental sustainability, productivity, fairness and macroeconomic stability identified in the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy – will continue to provide guidance on the implementation of the Pillar principles at national level, including through the relevant EU funding. The proposal for an update of the Social Scoreboard, is also linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Alongside the headline targets, integrating and updating the existing set of indicators will contribute to tracking progress towards the Pillar principles in a more comprehensive manner and to monitor the implementation of policy actions proposed by the Action Plan.


    This Action Plan puts forward European Union level actions for the further implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, in order to build a stronger Social Europe for just transitions and recovery. Achieving a full enjoyment of the rights and principles of the Pillar by European Union's citizens requires, for the most part, national, regional and local level action.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    The Action Plan draws on a large-scale consultation launched early 2020 where more than 1000 contributions were received from citizens, European institutions and bodies, Member States, regional and local authorities, social partners and civil society organisations. The results of the consultation are presented in the Staff Working Document accompanying the Action Plan (SWD(2021) 46).

    Sustainability and replicability

    Guiding Europen Union international action in the social area, the Pillar helps affirm the EU role. The European Commission works towards the creation of a level playing field worldwide, where competitive advantages are not at the detriment of the most vulnerable. On the one hand, the European Union acts within a multilateral system based on international norms, to which the EU or its Member States subscribe. On the other hand, the Pillar is a guiding tool for our bilateral relations with external partners, including the neighbourhood and enlargement partners, defining the high level of social standards for which the European Union stands.

    COVID-19 Impact

    While the preparation of the Action Plan was already on track before the crisis hit, the COVID-19 has exposed Europe to further drastic changes in our jobs, education, economy, welfare systems and social life. It is in times like these, of deep transformations, that our social fabric is put to the test. Europeans continue to legitimately hold to the promise of a performant social market economy, with jobs that allow a decent living and protection in times of need. Improving and adapting our ‘social rulebook’– fostering an economy that works for people and promoting social progress – is at the heart of Europe’s response to these changes.

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    04 March 2021 (start date)
    01 December 2024 (date of completion)
    European Union
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    Other beneficiaries

    The European Commission calls on the Member States, social partners and other relevant actors like regional and local authorities as well as civil society organisations to put the high social standards reflected in the Pillar at the centre of their investments and reforms powering the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our shared goal is to invest in present and future generations of Europeans, enabling them and Europe as a whole to thrive through social innovation and diversity, despite change and adversity.

    Contact Information

    Laia, Policy officer SDGs