Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments


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Local and regional governments as employers

Strong Social Europe - 09.11.2020

Europe’s social action should support digital learning and green apprenticeships
What further measures should the European Union undertake to promote social justice and cohesion? This is the question asked by the European Commission in an open consultation launched last January. Since then, the COVID crisis has brutally affected our lives and economies. That makes it all the more important to support local public services and vulnerable populations, while maintaining the course towards a more sustainable economic model.

As outlined in CEMR’s response to the consultation, local and regional governments believe that the EU should take action to ensure that workers have the skills to participate in the new economy and that vulnerable populations have full access to the labour market.

In particular, the EU should provide support to digitalise education systems, making sure that all students and schools are appropriately equipped for learning, even during the pandemic. Looking to the longer term, young people need access to training and apprenticeship schemes for green jobs in fields such as public transport and park management.

What’s more, given the continent’s demographic challenges, the EU needs to do more to include young people, women, seniors, migrants and people with disabilities on the labour market. The difficulties of the COVID recession makes supporting these groups all the more important.

Subsidiarity: a crucial principle for a diverse continent

Local and regional governments are wary of suggestions of binding EU regulation on social issues. In particular, a legal requirement to regularly report on EU social benchmarks would be an excessive bureaucratic burden for municipalities and regions.

What’s more, the Commission should not make the 20 principles of the EU’s Social Pillar – which cover a range of issues from working conditions to wages – into a binding legal framework. Last month, we similarly opposed the suggestion of EU legislation on minimum wages as this could threaten social partners’ ability to negotiate fair salaries.

Given the diversity of Europe’s social and labour market models, we cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach. The EU should respect national and regional competencies in line with the principle of subsidiarity, allowing each country and territory to take the measures most appropriate to its particular conditions.

On the basis of this consultation, the European Commission is expected to present a new action plan on the Pillar of Social Rights in the first quarter of 2021.
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