Studies on growth with equity

Building a social pillar for European convergence

This report finds that EU Member States are either diverging in terms of socio-economic performance or converging towards deteriorating outcomes such as worsening inequality and widening structural imbalances.

Since its creation, the European Union (EU) has aimed to promote socio-economic convergence between its Member States. However, over the past few years – notably since the onset of the crisis – the process convergence has stalled.

This report finds that EU Member States are either diverging in terms of socio-economic performance or converging towards deteriorating outcomes such as worsening inequality and widening structural imbalances. Furthermore, there is a risk that, if left unaddressed, the gaps within and across countries will widen in the context of rapid changes taking place in the world of work. In September 2015, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced in his speech on the State of the Union, the establishment of a European Pillar of Social Rights.

The Pillar would support the construction of a fair and truly pan-European labour market. Furthermore, Member States’ convergence towards better socio-economic outcomes, underpinned by such a Pillar, would be the foundation for a more integrated and stable Europe and a necessary condition for a well-functioning Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). It is therefore imperative that the EU continues to strive collectively towards economic, employment and social improvements for all its members.

Guided by international labour standards, this report presents a range of policy and institutional levers at the EU level that could be considered central to such a Pillar. It further argues that the role of the social partners both at the EU and national levels is key to building consensus and strengthening the societal support for the continued construction of the EU.