Contribution by Mr. Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Representative of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania To the Working Group on Social Europe
Contribution by Mr. Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis,
Representative of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
To the Working Group on Social Europe
Mr. Chairman, dear colleagues,
Beyond any doubt, the values of the European Union and its citizens must be protected and promoted. We need the European area that is not characterised not only as that of freedom, security and justice, but also that of social justice. We have a unique opportunity to put the European Social Model on the agenda of the Convention and find answers to some of the urgent social questions.
Because of the time constraint we are confronted with, I would like to give my short answers to the first three questions of the draft mandate of the Working group on Social Europe:
1. I suggest that the Union's basic values, as set out in Article 2 of the preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty, also include solidarity, equality and social justice.
2. The Union's general objectives, as specified in Article 3 of the preliminary draft Constitutional Treaty, include promotion of full employment and accessible and financially sustainable social protection of high quality organised on the basis of solidarity.
3. It's difficult to give a straightforward answer to this series of questions at this stage of the debate. The question of Union/Community competencies in social matters is a fundamental one. At first, it might seem that the shared or concurrent competencies of the Union/Community and the member states in social matters might be sufficient, provided that the existing social policies are streamlined. On the other hand, the Union's activities based on Council directives with "minimum requirements for gradual implementation" of the social activities of the member states can hardly be considered satisfactory in the rapidly changing EU.
The Convention Working Group on Charter has emphasised that the incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU does not confer any new competencies on the Union/Community.
Most of the present member states and candidate countries have ratified, with certain reservations, the European Social Charter of 1961 and the Amended European Social Charter of 1996. I would like to suggest that the working group pay a special attention on the provisions of these instruments so that the reservations are removed and action as to their implementation is taken, including that on the Union level.
I would also like to draw the group's attention to the paper by Dr. Frank Vandenbroucke, Minister for Social Affairs and Pensions of the Belgian Federal Government, presented at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Koln on 17 June 2002 in which specific Treaty amendments in social matters are proposed. I fully share Dr. Frank Vandenbroucke's views and think that the proposals merit the group's attention.