Minister Haatainen: EU social protection profile
“We will be considering the ways in which we can create the best preconditions at the Euro-pean level to improve the welfare of all population groups. Although decision making on social protection is - and will continue to be - carried out at national level, European cooperation has created new frameworks for our national social security systems,” said Finnish Minister of Social Affairs and Health Tuula Haatainen at the opening of the conference on the EU’s evolving social policy and national models, which opened in Helsinki, Thursday.
“The influence of the European Union seeps into the social security arrangements of member States through many different channels. Political processes, such the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy, provide direction for the social policy of Member States. The implementation of the decisions related to legislation on the internal market and competition has an impact on the organisation of social policy. The framework created by economic and monetary union has an influence on how Member States use the resources at the disposal of public finance.
“There needs to be greater emphasis in the EU on social and health considerations together with and as a support of the policy of the internal market, economic growth and employment. Social policy is a productive factor. The public expenses incurred by having it are from the outset smaller than the societal costs resulting from not having it. Poverty, social exclusion and unemployment are nevertheless experienced by millions of people. This is why we must present new ways of working or openings at both national and EU levels.
“The most important question concerns weather issues related to social protection are prop-erly in balance with European policy processes or the internal market. No one wants to build a single European social protection system. On the other hand, it is not tenable to claim that social protection systems are exclusively the responsibility of the Member States. There is room for different ideas between the two extremes.
“The European Union and its Member States need the broad support of its citizens in order to be able to reform its social protection systems effectively by adding social and economic sustainability. Public dissatisfaction influences whether in terms of its market and financial capacity and public social protection the EU becomes sidelined. This is why the accomplishments and significance of social protection must in a concrete sense be made conspicuous and brought to public attention.”