The Europeanisation of social security is a fact
The EU Presidency conference on the EU’s evolving social policy and national models, which opened 9 November in Helsinki, is being held to raise discussion on the current problems and challenges facing social policy. Nearly 200 participants are attending the two-day conference to defend, criticise and put forward new ideas on the European social model.
The European social model emphasises the social market economy, the principle of subsidiar-ity and work orientation. The most important issues are considered to be activeness and par-ticipation, social policy as a productive factor, gender equality and the participation of organi-sations.
But in a c hanging world the future of the European social model may hang in the balance. EU level decision-making on economy and employment has increased significantly in recent years. Social policy too is being carried out within new frames of reference. Globalisation, the internal market and economic and employment policy have an impact on social and health policy. This is why the conference is raising the question of whether there is a need for a new balance of social models between the EU and its Member States.
The first day of the conference is focussing on the attitudes of member States to European social security and the possibilities for cooperation. The ideas of the Member States on this are very similar to one another. The principle of subsidiarity is considered important and the original form of the Lisbon Strategy is suited to all. There are many views on the Services Directive but many accept it as long as it excludes social and health services.
Member States are generally concerned at the impact of EU enlargement and social policy decision-making slipping from the national to the EU level. In a changing world existing models have to be developed. The current social security systems have not managed suffi-ciently to uproot poverty and social exclusion. Of the new and common challenges facing the Member States the fear is that inequality is on the increase. Globalisation, new technology, population ageing and changes to the family structure all entail their own challenges to the realisation of social policy models.
The problems facing Member States are common and the solutions already carried out are surprisingly similar. Even better responses can be made through collaboration and using the Open Method of Coordination. Not all influences that come from outside are negative, and there is much to learn from the practices and solutions of others. The Europeanisation of so-cial security is a fact. This is why it has to be discussed.
Director-General Kari Välimäki, tel. (09) 160 73194
Ministerial Adviser Juho Saari, tel. (09) 160 73771