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The Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Toomas Vitsut, member of the Committee Kalle Palling, and Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee Helmen Kütt met with the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen. The discussion centred on the Pillar of Social Rights.

The Pillar of Social Rights aims to create equal opportunities and access to labour market. Both parties agreed that the national social systems should reflect the current needs, and look towards the future to account for the ageing societies and the development of technology.

Vitsut spoke briefly about the Estonian priorities during its Presidency of the EU. The talk then turned to topics of the social field which might appear on the agenda during Estonia’s Presidency.

The European Commission has initiated amendments to the directive on coordinating social security systems, which are currently undergoing legislative proceedings. The amendments regulate cross-border social benefits, and encourage people to work abroad. The aim is to give a sense of security on the available benefits, and whether these should be provided by the country of employment, or the country of residence.

Another emphasis is on the better application of the rules set for occupational safety. Other topics of the meeting included changes in work life, professional skills, and work-life balance.

Kütt highlighted the problem of the Estonian youth who are not studying nor active on the labour market. She also mentioned the pay gap and the consequent difference in the living standard of men and women during retirement. Kütt thinks that the pension system and social welfare system also need an overhaul because if the people live longer they also need more social and health care services.

Member of the European Affairs Committee Kalle Palling pointed out that the collaborative economy has improved employment, for example by providing jobs to hearing impaired taxi drivers.

“Technological development can never be too rapid. However, countries can be too slow to introduce and regulate it,” Palling said. Palling also believes that a major part of the jobs today will be taken over by robots sooner or later, which is why the European Union should already start thinking about the millions of people who will need to be involved in the lifelong learning programmes as a consequence.

Commissioner Thyssen emphasised lifelong learning as the key to labour today. She was interested to learn about the Estonian social sector e-services that might serve as models for other Member States.

Photos of the meeting.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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