| Extracts from the speech of the European Parliament President at the European Council in Porto.|
“Our citizens expect a lot from the recovery we are preparing. They expect it to have a strong social imprint, to have the objective of bridging inequalities, of relaunching quality work, of accompanying everyone in the great transition that awaits us.
“The growth in inequality created by the COVID-19 crisis threatens to leave a legacy of poverty and social and economic instability that would be devastating. Covid-19 highlighted pre-pandemic inequalities more vividly than we could imagine.
“It would be misleading to think that this social rift, widened by the pandemic, can heal quickly and that the economy and society can return to pre-pandemic normality.
“The European Recovery Plan contains an indispensable social dimension, as it will make it possible to finance measures linked to social and territorial cohesion, as well as measures in favour of children and young people. This dimension, to me, seems essential: climate change cannot be decoupled from social justice and from the fight against inequalities. Indeed, inequality and poverty fuel the ecological crisis, while we see that more egalitarian societies have a better environmental situation and a greater capacity to become more sustainable.
“Thus, with the European Recovery Plan, Europe is giving itself the means to tackle structural problems and to move further towards a social Europe. Social dialogue and the commitment of social actors will be essential to achieve this goal. More than ever, in addition to the Green Deal and the Digital Strategy, it is necessary to strongly reaffirm the existence of a third pillar for EU recovery and transformation, the European Pillar of Social Rights.
“This important summit must not be a point of arrival, but a starting point that leads to the implementation of the renewed social agenda that we are agreeing together here today.
“The time has come to take stock of the lessons learned from the pandemic and to build resilient and prosperous societies into the future. The Parliament believes that we have the legislation, we have the financial means, we now need real political will and the commitment of all responsible authorities to make social rights a reality for everyone in the EU.
“The social proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in Gothenburg in 2017 was an unprecedented event; the same goes for the Porto Social Summit. It is time to take a step forward together in terms of concrete results, ambition, objectives and social rights.”