Fair jobs and growth in focus at the Social Summit in Gothenburg

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker were the hosts of the Social Summit of fair jobs and growth held in Gothenburg on the 17th of November.

A the Social Summit the EU leaders signed the European Pillar of Social Rights. Social and labour market issues are at the top of the European agenda, not least since the economic and financial crisis and as a result of a changing labour market. These issues concern many of EU's citizens but are also politically debated. Opinions differ both between member states and within the member states, particularly concerning what should be decided on the EU level.

Social policy is generally the member states' competences, but on the EU level there is an exchange of experiences. The purpose of the social pillar is to demonstrate a political will to prioritise these issues.

The pillar contains 20 key principles, structured around three categories:

  • Equal opportunities and access to the labour market
  • Fair working conditions
  • Social protection and inclusion

The social summit is a part of a bigger discussion on the future of the EU which focuses on what the EU should do and in what way.

Seminars and publications on the subject Social Europe

SIEPS have held two seminars on the topic with the aim of clarifying what Social Europe is and to provide a foundation for further discussion. What is the difference between the Social Pillar, Social Europe and what does the social acquis say? The seminars brought together academics from several European countries and disciplines, ensuring a broad perspective on the topic.

On the 30th of August the free movement of people was analysed. The seminar focused on the current legal framework and the effects of free movement. Speakers were Jörgen Hettne, Senior Researcher in Law, SIEPS and Associate professor at Department of Business Law, Lund University; Eskil Wadensjö, professor in Economics, Stockholm University; and Ylva Nilsson, EU Journalist.


The seminar A Social Europe – what is it really about? was held on 22 September focused on the social acquis - how the social acquis has developed, what is included here, what are the contentious issues? The open method of coordination, the method used in social policy, was also analysed. Has it worked well and are there lessons we can draw form experiences in the member states?