A public discussion on the European Pillar of Social Rights was held on Friday, 1 March 2019 by the European Parliament Liaison Office Malta and Europe Direct Valletta, hosted by MEUSAC in collaboration with Europe Direct Gozo. The discussion was held at the Verdala Palace in Buskett to mark this year’s International Women’s Day.
The event was addressed by the Minister for European Affairs and Social Equality, Dr Helena Dalli; the Acting Head of the European Parliament Liaison Office Malta, Anna Zammit Vella; MEPs David Casa, Miriam Dalli, Roberta Metsola and Francis Zammit Dimech; Commissioner for Equality, Renee Laiviera; Secretary of the Anti-Poverty Network, André Bonello; and the President of the National Council of Women, Mary Gaerty.
In her opening address, the Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Helena Dalli, spoke of the European Pillar of Social Rights as an important step in favour of greater work-life balance for both women and men. She referred to the initiatives taken by government to give the opportunity for more women to join the labour force, to step up the efforts in favour of greater financial independence for women, flexible working hours and practices, the right to disconnect, the introduction of the Directive on work-life balance, and the introduction of a maternity fund with contributions from all employers, whether they employ women or men. Her final appeal was for all those who are in a position to work for change to remember that any step in favour of equality is a step in favour of society. The Minister announced that next week, she would be launching further government initiatives in favour of equal rights and accessibility, financial independence, equal access to education and training, general well-being and inter-sectionality.
Ms Anna Zammit Vella gave an overview of the elements within the European Pillar of Social Rights and the European Parliament’s achievements in view of the upcoming Elections next May. She also referred to the European Parliament’s work on proposed legislation within the European Pillar of Social Rights such as the Directives on Posting of Workers, the Accessibility Act, Work-Life Balance, and Equal Pay.
The panel members and participants in the discussion spoke of various elements tied to the European Pillar of Social Rights. The following were among the issues raised: the Social Pillar has been a cross-sectoral achievement for all Member States; the need for more opportunities and flexibility for the younger generations; the need for a change in culture that truly reflects what the Social Pillar is intended to achieve; the importance of providing the right information to citizens for them to make the right and well-informed choices; equality for all is for the benefit of all; everyone should have a life that is decent, affordable and adequate; it must be ensured that Equality, Fairness and Protection really apply to all, through legally-binding principles.