Minister Haatainen: The EU Social Model is created by a three-step technique
The heads of the EU States should challenge the EU’s social and health ministers to present their own proposal for improving the competitiveness of the EU in the social sector. Discussion at the national level is not enough but a broader European dialogue is needed on linking together the EU’s competitiveness and the Social Model. The contribution by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the debate on the new European Social Model for promoting global competitiveness is most welcome, stated the Finnish Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Ms Tuula Haatainen when speaking on 30 September in Helsinki at a national seminar on social cohesion and sustainable environment in the Lisbon Strategy. The ministers responsible for social protection cannot demand placing social cohesion on a par with the economy and employment while at the same time emphasising the principle of subsidiarity of social protection issues, Minister Haatainen continued. It is now important to find a new balance on the EU’s decision-making arenas between the economic integration and socio-political co-operation. We need such policies that enable a stronger and more balanced approach from the social policy point of view in the European integration process.
A three-step technique should be used in the preparation of the European Social Model. During the first step, we should move over to a more analytical approach in EU co-operation. It requires a transparent and broad-based preparation process and taking into account various stakeholders, such as the social partners, NGOs and other interest groups. EU issues should be seen as our common issues.
At the stage of the second step the responsible ministers need to form a joint position on the issue. It is important to reserve and spend enough time on it, and at this stage the national interests should be excluded from the work.
The third and the longest step is that the economic and social development is reconciled with the different systems of Member States and the EU’s basic policies. Understanding and respecting the Member States’ different solutions will create the prerequisites for EU co-operation on this issue. A harmonisation of the social security systems is out of the question, stressed Minister Haatainen.
We need now political efforts so that the EU will be in a good shape to achieve results in his area. I am willing too boost the development of the European Social Model during the forthcoming Finnish EU Presidency.
In 1999 Finland was a country that had done significant basic work when the method of co-ordination of social protection was created for the EU. On that foundation, Portugal could build up its competitiveness-promoting Lisbon Strategy.