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Social Investment Package and the social dimension of EMU

 

Over the last few months, civil society organisations committed to the social field worked significantly to analyse and react to the Social Investment Package (SIP), published by the European Commission in February.

EASPD is working on its own reaction paper that will be published after the General Assembly that will take place in Thessaloniki on 1st June. At the same time, we also contributed to the Social Services Europe Response to the SIP and to the one from the Social Platform of European Social NGOs.

EASPD is one of the co-founders of Social Services Europe, the network of social service providers representing 100.000 service providers throughout Europe. Their response to the Package generally welcomes its paradigm shift, from an approach to social expenditure seen as a cost to the focus on return of investments. As such, Service providers have offered a partnership to the Commission in the implementation of the package, underlining that this will depend on the co-operation of national and local governments, the appropriate use of the EU Structural and Innovation Funds, the governance process of the European Semester and the partnership approach with social service providers at EU, national and local level.

The Social Platform of Social NGOs also underlines the opportunity that the Package represents for re-orienting policies towards a re-balancing of social and economic policies both at EU and member state level and towards an alternative to the current austerity measures. However, the Platform also expresses some concern on some of the elements of the package, and in particular to the lack of emphasis on human rights, as well as on the use of the term “conditionality” when talking about social investment. Their third point refers to implementation, recommending to include in it references to anti-discrimination legislation, to the role played by the State as social investor, to the need for quality employment and to the job creation potential in the social and health sector. Additionally, they underline that an effective implementation of the Country Specific Recommendations is crucial to allow the implementation of the Package.

On 2-3 May EASPD representatives attended the conference of the European Commission presenting the SIP, where participants were invited to contribute to the discussion on the implementation of the SIP around the three pillars of investment, innovation and involvement. Our general impression from this event is that the Commission is trying to establish a meaningful dialogue with civil society and that the overall direction of the EU towards social policy in particular -and policy as a whole- is changing towards a positive direction. On the other hand, there is a real risk that the impact of the package could be reduced to good intentions by the European institutions followed by little concrete action by Member States. Indeed, the Package’s main problem is that is not binding for Member States and that its implementation is in the hands of the European Semester, which currently has a very limited impact upon the policy-making process of each Member State.

One of the elements that will play a key role in the near future on the implementation of SIP and in the shift towards an increasingly social Europe is the debate around the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The European Council of June 27th and 28th will decide on a roadmap for its implementation. EASPD will intervene in this debate calling for the need for a more socially-oriented Europe.

For more information please contact Ms Irene Bertana at: irene.bertana@easpd.eu