Several of EAPN messages sent in a letter to the EPSCO Council have been picked up – particularly on Civil Society stakeholder involvement and the need for more coherence between economic and social goals.
- Backing is given to the Social Investment Package, but emphasizing the inter connection between investment, social protection and stabilization.
- They call for more evidence, funding and good practice guidance to see how to manage funding, under current budget restraints.
- The Child Poverty Recommendation gets strong backing.
- Active Inclusion is emphasized, with some support for follow up on reference budgets, also for comprehensive housing-led homeless strategies.
- The focus on the social dimension calls for more work by the SPC particularly on exploring social divergences and imbalances between MS.
We highlight below the main points from the Council Conclusions and the Conclusions on the Social Investment Package.
1. European Semester
- The Council welcomed the semester and highlighted an improvement in the engagement between social and economic/finance ministers ) EMCO and SPC and ECOFIN)but still with room for improvement.
- They ‘’underlined the importance of the involvement of social partners and civil society in the CSR process in order to ensure broader social acceptance of the reforms”’
- They highlighted the tensions in the economic and social objectives – with rising poverty and inequalities, and highlighted the need for the EU to find ‘’ a more sustainable growth path requiring a comprehensive and balanced policy mix – that can ensure job creation, efficiency of public expenditure and ‘’ensure the effectiveness of welfare systems.’’.
2. Youth Employment
- They stressed the need to move from words to action, and to use quickly the 6 billion Euro earmarked and to make sure funding is available by Jan 2014 – this means finalizing the programming for ESF.
- The Commission presented its new communication on Youth Employment.
3. FEAD (Fund for European Aid for the most deprived)
They discussed progress, confirming the decision of the February Council for 2.5 billion allocated, for the period 2014-20, but highlighted the two sticking point:
- whether a new EU level fund covering all MS is the most appropriate way of helping the most deprived and
- what form should it take. Negotiations continue..
4. Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion
- The Council adopted Conclusions from the SIP Communication (see below) highlighting that the SIP is a policy framework that could give fresh impetus to achieving the poverty target, given that progress has stalled – it should demonstrate that despite budgetary constraints, better social outcomes can be achieved, without necessarily spending more…
- The Council stressed the need for reforms at national level which should aim to strengthen human capital, health, education, and skills, foster social inclusion and participation, with improving the effectiveness and efficiency of social protection systems as a central goal. Social investment is seen as an additional function to social protection and stabilization roles of welfare states.
- It gave a particular welcome to the Child Poverty Recommendation, with its emphasis on preventative and child-friendly social investment. ‘’providing access to adequate resources and good quality, affordable services is crucial to break the vicious circle of transmission of poverty””
PRESS RELEASE – 3247th Council meeting – EMPLOYMENT, SOCIAL POLICY, HEALTH and CONSUMER AFFAIRS – Luxembourg, 20-21 June 2013 (provisional version): http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/lsa/137549.pdf
EPSCO Council Conclusions on the Social Investment Package (SIP): Towards social investment for growth and cohesion
The Conclusions underline the deteriorating social impact of the crisis, and the key role of social policy.
They emphasize the role of well-designed and effective social policies to address the effects of the crisis through stabilization and social protection roles, but highlight that these functions could be reinforced by using a social investment approach ie additional approach – ie addressing people’s needs using preventative and integrated strategies, strengthening capacities, which can act as a catalyst for economic recovery as well as better social outcomes, social cohesion. The focus is clearly on human capital measures, health, education and skills.
Social protection should take account of social investment principles, complementing universal with selective approaches and simplification to’’ improve access, coverage and take up’’.
A stronger focus is given to Active Inclusion – emphasizing the 3 pilllars, referring to reference budgets to support development of adequate income support, effective activation and access to wide range of services to support economic and social inclusion.
It strongly backs the Commission Recommendation on Investing in children through the 3-pillar approach.
- They call for references in the European Semester – eg the NRPs, and the Social OMC, NSRs and thematic surveillance.
- They support the proposal to work together to implement active inclusion, with particular reference to ‘’possible usefulness’’ of reference budegets or similar instruments’’.
- Underlines the importance of early intervention in early childhood education.
- Confirms the need to make governance more effective and strengthen the role of the EPSCO, ensure the involvement of stakeholders and iprove reporting.
- EU funds should be used for the practical implementation of Social Investment and implementation monitored.
- Invites MS to recognize social investment with emphasis on prevention, and to consider simplified benefit systems and more joined up social policies.
- Increased attention to implementation of comprehensive active inclusion.
- Design child-friendly policies to invest in children and break cycle of disadvantage.
- Tackle gender inequalities – increased poverty risk for older women, gender pay gap, and barriers to women’s participation in the LM
- Tackle social and health risks to ensure a healthy population – ensuring universal access to high quality health care.
- Confront homelessness through comprehensive strategies based on prevention, housing-led approaches and review regulations on evictions.
They invite the Commission to:
- Develop more research for their social investment approach in addition to stabilization and social protection functions of welfare systems
- Provide guidance in the Annual Growth Survey.
- Provide guidance on how best to use EU funds to implement the concept.
- Make proposals on how the European Platform Against Poverty should further contribute and strengthen the involvement of stakeholders.
- Develop more timely data and a knowledge bank.
They ask the Social Protection Committee (SPC) to:
- Carry out analytical work to asses peformanc eof social policies in terms of the 3 functions ( investment, protection and stabilization), paying particular attention to their ‘’interaction, sustainability, adequacy , growth-enhancing capacity’’.
- Continue its reflection on the social dimension of the EMC and particularly social divergences and social imbalances.
Council conclusions – “Towards social investment for growth and cohesion”:
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/lsa/137545.pdf (original version – EN)