The book includes on Eurogovernance by Roger Liddle and Philippe Pochet, Cohesion policy and the role played by Structural Funds in austerity by Marjorie Jouen (Notre Europe), Health care policies: European debate and national reforms by Rita Baeten and Sara Thomson. Has the European Model really gone? – by David Natalie (OSE) and Europe 2020 and The fight against poverty and social exclusion by Ramon Peña-Casas (OSE). The latter article draws heavily on EAPN inputs (and quotes them).
It concludes that the Europe 2020 has diluted the social dimension so far – the fight against poverty is reduced to economic aspects and impact on growth, with only focus on maximum participation in the labour market, and with active inclusion barely visible. He highlights the striking democratic deficit, with little consultation or attention paid to civil society representatives or social partners, undermining any credibility to stakeholders or the European Public. The confusion over the roles and links between the Social OMC and the EPAP, the failure of the target, and dubious indicators leaving choice to MS, has further undermined the social dimension. He recommends:
- The need for formal procedures to integrate the objectives and phases of the Social OMC into Europe 2020 (Platform, and Inclusion Guideline)
- Send clear message on governance, with objectives and responsibilities of all partners
- Take the social objectives out of the employment guidelines (to allow a more prominent and independent approach beyond growth and employment (input to review in 2014..
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Social Development in EU – 2011: 11 June 2012, EESC, Brussels.
The event held in the EESC, presented the main findings of the book, with specific inputs from Roger Liddle, David Natali, Philippe Pochet and Bart Vanhercke, followed by a general debate. This was followed by a round table discussion involving Lieve Fransen (Director of Social Policies and Europe 2020 – EC), Lorenzo Codogno, former chair fo the EPC and George Dassis, President of Group 11, European Economic and Social Committee.
See summary of inputs below:
Philippe Pochet, Director of ETUI
- Crisis is disguising the transition to a new mode of consumption
- Absurd mantra that austerity leads to growth – no evidence base or serious analysis
- Hidden agenda to de-regulate labour rights and public services
- Role of hegemonic block with financial capitalism re-imposing an agenda with double standards ( ieg 1% lending to banks and 7% to Governments).
David Natali, OSE
- EU has run fast to stand still – after all the efforts on the crisis no real progress.
- Funeral of the social model? (Mario Draghi’s statement) and messages that Europe needs austerity.
- Risks at stake – global irrelevance, mounting tensions between MS, democratic defict and growing unrest
- Exit strategies? – we should return to Jaques Delors: “’competition, cooperation and solidarity’’ – where’s the solidarity? “’Competition alone can’t work”.
- Lack of legitimacy with intergovernmental process and resort to international law, sidelining community method, with lack of EU strategy and focus on narrow national interests.
- Attack on social rights, confirmed with weak stakeholder engagement (but only referenced trade unions)
- Major risk that the strategy is inefficient in supporting reduction in govt debts, with blind focus on austerity driving a double-dip recession.
- Way forward? Return to Delors, reinforce territorial solidarity and with workers (!), develop a true EU public policy including on social inclusion
- Euro was set up on a flawed basis –meant to be a more ambitious concept: fiscal transfers and wage policy.
- Lisbon lacked focus and the OMC was ignored.
- Labour market reform has reinforced 2 tier systems with marginalized workers and growing in-work poverty.
- 1st decade of the Euro dominated by complacency – now competiveness has got out of line and is producing pain “collective austerity has made this pain more severe”’
- Not just a problem of the Eurocountries, but MS outside Europe have other choices – ie devalue.
- Fundamental challenge to the European Social Model.
- Some progress made with firewall, stability mechanisms and bail outs, and now the move towards more of a growth package and the pressure on Germany to increase wages, with repercussions for Euro area.
- But no answers to long-term challenges: Rising Inequality – between countries and people; Democratic deficit and global competition – taking the “high road’’ rather than social dumping.
- More Europe? We need fiscal union, but not a superstate run by the Commission and technical agents – needs a new democratic process – the current EP model doesn’t work.
- Progress on EU Tax Policy is crucial – avoid the race to the bottom, on corporate taxation, as well as tax evasion and avoidance.
- Need to press for mix of solidarity and self interest – need to convince German Tax-Payers why it’s in their interest to be in the EU and to show more solidarity.
EAPN input: Agree with the focus on solidarity – but needs to include support for universal social protection systems and minimum income/ as automatic stabilisers and key pillar for social investment. Agree with focus on inequality, but EU gives no focus, needs to be included in objectives and be guiding principle. More attention to winners and losers – growing gap in income and wealth, and key role of redistribution particularly through tax policy.
Natali: Agree there needs to be more focus on inequality and adequacy of social protection systems and the provision for a decent life, but the “house is on fire”’ we need to find urgent short-term solutions – these are primarily financial. Long-term we need to re-think our development model, integrating solidarity in growth and long-term risks of climate change.
Liddle: Agree that EU has never focussed on reducing inequality – social cohesion is a fudge. But need to push on concrete policies – ie focusing on income differentials and how you close the gap – also the EU role on tax ie on corporation tax avoiding a race to the bottom and argue it in terms as ‘’strengthen resource base of national welfare states”. Full employment is a key solution, tackling in-work poverty and reducing polarization in LM – with more focus on low-skilled workers.
Pochet: Inequality causes poverty and particularly child poverty..
We need to analyse wealth and the rich – what do we know about the super-rich and their role/powers?
Debate about democracy is crucial – technocrats v parliamentary democracy but what about other stakeholders? Social partners and civil society?
There is a choice and there are alternatives.
Round Table Discussion
- What is solidarity? What progress have we made?
- We need to analyse the social dimension in the current processes and see what we can do
- Social Europe is in transition – but we need to project a positive image – there are risks and opportunities
- Some difficulties over the framework and structure of Europe 2020 and the social dimension – how do we change it? eg the reporting mechanism for the Recommendations – not possible to see the poverty dimension.
- Only targets on course are climate and energy. In the CSR – only 5 poverty recommendations (BG, CY, ES, LT and LV) and 14 on Pensions (AT, BE, BG, CY, CZ, ES, LT, LV, LU, MT, NL, SI, SK, PL,) and 3 on Roma (BG, HU, SK)
- Lack of integration at country level. “many countries have no strategy to fight poverty” – the limited response to Social Reports so far is worrying.
- How do we mobilize member states to pursue social investment? OMC offers opportunities of exchange of know-how, and good practice and to feed back policy lessons from economic governance..
- Confused direction at the moment – trying to balance stability and growth
- Recognition that fiscal stimulus is relevant for countries in surplus but no one size fits all.
- Spending cuts also impacting on growth, so move to get a better balance – increasing tax and reducing spending cuts.
- Debate on growth-friendly tax is vital with shift away from tax on labour to consumption, but more needs to be done on tax evasion
- The fundamental flaws in the Eurozone need a European response with joint fiscal policy and a roadmap – short and long term.
- “Austerity is necessary, but needs to create a viable road to the future – reinforcing governance, supporting growth in the private sector – having a pragmatic approach..”
- EAPN – Agree there’s a lack of strategy to fight poverty at national level, but where is the strategy at EU level? Do we not need urgently a new EU strategy setting out an integrated approach to preventing and alleviating poverty as a basis for delivery on the poverty target etc?
- Ramon (OSE) – agree with EAPN, there is a big step back on integrated strategies. the only actions from the EU level, are piecemeal focusing on one group or the other, but no strategic and integrated approach. how can the Social OMC and its Common Objectives be better integrated and have impact?
- Lieve – You’re right – we need a better integrated strategy . It’s very fragmented – pensions, homelessness – where is the EU added value? We’re keen for proposals – what can we do? Where is the mandate from MS? We need to focus on social capital and investment in the discussions on structural reform. The role of the OMC is not so clear – how do we engage MS. We need a social package to balance the employment package, that will get agreement by MS to use automatic stabilisers better. The issue of redistribution of resources is key.
- Lorenzo – “fighting poverty and exclusion is crucial – but also to help the economy. It’s bad for the economy to have more homeless people. MS should put aside money to reduce poverty and exclusion to ensure the sustainable future of their economy”.