I have unreservedly voted in favour of this report on the following understanding: that while the measures being recommended will need to apply across the European Union, it does not follow that their implementation should be harmonised across states having different economic and social characteristics.

Indeed their application will remain in large part a matter for national authorities to determine the when and the how, in response to changing economic and social requirements within their communities.

I would like to add two further remarks. The report is very comprehensive, covering all areas of social policy. We need to set priorities to it: mine would be in labour laws and social security; education; pensions.

Secondly, the reality is that the principles guiding economic management in the EU are, as a matter of policy, constrained by neo-liberal perspectives. Especially in the eurozone, this has led to decisions that place the social burdens of economic strategies on workers and the least well off, thereby flagrantly contradicting what used to be considered as the European social model. One now therefore must doubt whether a commitment to a European pillar of social rights can be long-lasting.

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