What Future for Social Europe? Beyond the European Crisis
On 21st November, a conference on the Future of Social Europe was organised by the European Parliament Office and the Reverse link define here :
ActivitiesPoverty Alliance to look at the circumstances of the current crisis and its impact on employment, equality and poverty across European states. As Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance put it, the timing of this conference could not have been better or, depending on one's perspective, it could not have been worse. Several expert speakers and the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, addressed the question what 'social' has come to mean in Europe.
In his video message to the conference, Commissioner Andor emphasised that the Europe 2020 Strategy aims to reflect the EU's social dimension and seeks to tackle issues such as social exclusion or youth unemployment. He advocated an innovative outlook on social policy and economy by the European Union, a benchmarking system to identify and share best practice, and highlighted that member state governments need to put through reforms and welcome a new partnership approach involving their state's civil society, national parliaments, social partners and people living in poverty.
Professor Laura Cram from Strathclyde University examined the historical development and sketched out the dominant questions of Europe's social policy. Representing the European Anti-Poverty Network, Katherine Duffy highlighted what she saw as ideological problems in the EU's approach at a macro-economic level and argued that this was undermining the social dimension in Europe. Mike Allen from the 'Poor Can't Pay' campaign in Ireland discussed how the Irish Government responded to the EU's bail-out package and how the Irish public and stakeholders had reacted to events.
In the afternoon, at workshops on Employment, the European Social Fund and Equalities, participants of the conference learnt more about EU action and legislation in these areas and discussed what priorities the EU should adopt in order to improve the situation of its poorest and most vulnerable citizens. It was generally agreed that the European Union needs to continue its commitment to social inclusion, invest in education and skilled employment to generate growth and further promote equality among its citizens regardless of their social and religious background.
A summary of the key conclusions of the conference will be set out in a letter to Scottish MEPs and to Commissioner Andor.