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Churches' contribution to implementing the EPSR, under review @the EP in Brussels

On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels hosted an international seminar that was focused on the role of Churches and religious organisations in implementing the European Social Pillar (ESP). Hosted by Mrs. Mairead McGuinness, the EP First Vice-President and responsible for the implementation of Art. 17 of TFEU, the event brought together EU officials, scholars and representatives of religious bodies throughout Europe, as well as practitioners in the field of social services.

Participants underscored the particular place that Churches and other faith based organisations (FBOs) can, and actually do, play in building a more socially sensitive Europe, in line with the principles having been put forth in the European Pilar of Social Rights (EPSR). Besides their massive, and unparalleled presence at the grass-roots level in most, if not all, EU Member States, FBOs prove to be significantly more effective in addressing the social problems of the under-served and marginalised groups, such as the poor, the sick, the elderly, children or migrants. This makes FBOs' highly valuable and reliable social partners of the State, their experience in this field outrunning by far that of all the other actors in this field.

In his talk, Mrs. Shannon PFOHMAN, from CARITAS Europa, pointed to the fact that it is precisely the youth who was, and still is, the most affected by the outcomes of the economic crisis, and one can easily see that Sothern and Estern Europe were hit harsher by this sequence of evolutions. She suggested that the EU should address the problems by way of consolidating the FAMILY as a fundament for our society, as it has always been functioning as a safety net in difficult times, and promoting and implementing efficient measure to ensure DECENT WORK CONDITIONS and for all and an inclusive labour market.

The Orthodox voice at this seminar was Metropolitan Ignatios of Demetrias and Almyros (Greece). He positively appreciated the efforts of the European Institutions to publish the EPSR, but pointed out that there still is a huge amount of work to be done, at national and local level, to bring the principles thereof in the reality of the day-to-day life of European citizens. He particularly advocated for the European budget to include sufficient funds for the implementation of the EPSR. "Otherwise, it will remain a dead letter, as it happened repeatedly in the past", His Eminence concluded his intervention

The European Pillar of Social Rights was jointly proclaimed and signed by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council at the Gothenburg Social Summit in November 2017. It is basically a set of 20 principles and rights that build on the existing social acquis, i.e. social mandate contained in binding provisions of EU law, and should serve as a “compass” for the renewal of current labour markets and welfare systems across the European Union (EU). Their implementation is largely the responsibility of the Member States, who are to act in cooperation with the social partners and with the support of the European Union.

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