Cities partner up with the Commission to make social rights a reality for all

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EUROCITIES president and the chair of its social affairs forum met with EU Commissioner Marianne Thyssen today to discuss progress and opportunities to collaborate on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, one year after its launch. To implement the pillar at the local level, cities need better access to EU financial support, more room for social innovation and more space to meaningfully participate in EU policy-making related to the pillar.

EUROCITIES is preparing a new political initiative to commit mayors and deputy mayors to deliver on the principles of European Social Pillar.

Laia Ortiz, chair of EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum and deputy mayor of Barcelona, said:

Rising inequality and poverty across Europe has made life more difficult for many people and cities often feel alone in trying to cope with this social emergency. A fairer and more inclusive Europe is needed, and it requires the effective implementation of the European Social Pillar at local level where more than half the principles and rights will be put into effect. We are ready to do more to implement the pillar, but we need the means to do it. Cities are best placed to transfer these principles from a declaration into concrete actions on the ground. We need all levels of government to work in partnership with cities to make social rights a reality for all. This urgent matter can only be addressed with adequate financial support from the EU and legislative proposals from the EU to advance social rights and to match our commitment at local level.

City authorities play a crucial role in fighting poverty and social exclusion. EUROCITIES Declaration on Work has highlighted the crucial role of cities in this area in recent years. It shares mutual learning between cities to fight long-term unemployment and promotes more inclusive labour markets through the creation of quality jobs.

EUROCITIES plans further capacity-building activities in the coming months to support cities to translate the principles of the pillar into local actions that can tangibly improve people’s lives. EUROCITIES will invite EU leaders, including Commissioner Thyssen, to cities across Europe to see for themselves how the principles of the pillar are delivered locally.

The future of social Europe heavily depends on the involvement of cities. EUROCITIES has recently published evidence of the added value the European Social Fund brings to cities together with lessons learned from cities’ experiences. 

Daniël Termont, president of EUROCITIES and mayor of Ghent, said:

Cities can be counted on as partners towards a stronger social Europe, but this needs to be backed up by a strong cohesion policy post 2020. We must work together at all levels of government and strengthen the urban dimension of European money spent in this area for a better impact and results for our citizens. This is the only way to better match spending with the priorities on the ground and to deliver the ambitious objectives of the European Social Pillar.

EUROCITIES is committed to involving more citizens in the debate on the future of Europe, and inspiring the EU, and other levels of government, to build societies where people come first. EUROCITIES president invited Commissioner Thyssen to the launch event of the democracy campaign ‘Cities4Europe - Europe for citizens’ on 7 May to hear and share ideas about a more positive future for the EU. 

The meeting with Commissioner Thyssen follows the publication of EUROCITIES statement ‘Social Rights for All’ in Autumn 2017, and comes in response to a letter from EUROCITIES president sent to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in November 2017 pointing out the need to include cities in discussions on Europe’s social future.

Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said:

"The European Pillar of Social Rights is our chance to reconnect Europe with its citizens. Cities should have an important role in delivering on the Pillar to make social rights a reality on the ground."




Notes to the editor

1. EUROCITIES is the network of major European cities, with over 140 members, representing more than 130 million people. We work in all areas of interest for cities, from culture to mobility, environment to social affairs, economic development to smart cities. We facilitate learning experiences between cities, and represent cities’ interests towards the European Union.

2. EUROCITIES report ‘Boosting employment and social inclusion in EU cities’, published in February 2018, shares lessons learned from cities experiences with the European Social Fund in 2014-2017, and can be found here: 

3. The statement, ‘Social rights for all’, published in October 2017, can be found here: 

4. EUROCITIES Declaration on work, published in February 2015, can be found here: 

5. ‘Cities4Europe - Europe for citizens’ is the 2018 EUROCITIES campaign that aims to involve citizens in a dialogue about our future, inspire all levels of government to put people first, and impact the way decisions are taken in Europe. More information about the campaign can be found here: 



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