Introducing a chapter on employment is a good thing, but if the community takes steps to ensure social protection and a fair taxable future, then it still has pure rhetorical risks – or worse, promotes flexibility and deregulation defaults. Of course, I welcome the development of new opportunities to eradicate poverty and social exclusion, which will eventually lead to the abolition of the “fourth action programme” in this area. Even if the goal is limited to experimental financing, significant action can still be taken. But as long as social rights, such as minimum income rights, are not included in the treaty, the ambition of the “European social model” will be very mild.
The reference to the Social Charter of 1961 and 1989 makes fundamental social rights a guiding principle of European action but does not give a justiciable character to these rights. We are still far from a Europe of civil and social rights. The new non-discrimination provision provides for the possibility of adopting measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sex, race or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief, disability or ex-orientation, but it does not automatically prohibit such discrimination and, moreover, the measures must be taken unanimously in the Council.