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EU to emphasise the need for solidarity and social protection in addressing economic crisis
The European Commission has proposed that solidarity and social protection should be built on so as to smooth the impact of the economic crisis and to help recovery. In its proposals for the Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion 2009 to be agreed by the Council of Minister dealing with employment, social policy, health and consumer protection (known as EPSCO) the Commission has identified ten key messages to be accepted by governments across the EU.
Other issues addressed in the Commission’s proposals are unemployment, active inclusion strategies, child poverty, homelessness, disability, pension adequacy, health and long-term care. CORI Justice welcomes the thrust of these proposals as they highlight the importance of protecting the most vulnerable at a time of major economic difficulty. They also go some way towards recognising that economic development and social development are interdependent and must be addressed simultaneously if development is to be sustainable in the long term.
These proposals are now being considered by these governments and will be finally voted on at the Council meeting scheduled for March 9-10 2009.
The Commission’s ‘Proposal for the Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion 2009’ includes the following key messages:
- The EU can build on solidarity and social protection to smooth the impact of the economic crisis and to help recovery.
- The Structural Funds, in particular the ESF, should be used in order to help people affected by unemployment as a result of the economic downturn.
- Active inclusion strategies are needed in order to ensure an inclusive labour market, access to quality services and adequate income. Vital elements are supporting job retention, promoting quality jobs and ensuring services able to give a personalized response. Adequate income should be given more attention in its own right.
- Tackling child poverty and breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty are key objectives.
- Focus on the most vulnerable needs to be sustained, especially those affected by homelessness, on the Roma and on disabled people.
- The impact of pension reforms on the pension adequacy for low wage earners and those with atypical careers, among which women are overrepresented, have to be monitored.
- The impact of the economic crisis on pensioners and those retiring now should be limited although some schemes will face difficulties. Weak points have to be addressed and preventative measures taken in order to provide for adequacy and sustainability of pension schemes in the future.
- Making high quality healthcare accessible for all, reducing health inequalities giving increased attention to primary care, prevention and promotion are measures that need to be better implemented.
- Forthcoming staff shortages in health and long-term care, including the support of informal long-term carers, need to be addressed by Member States.
- With view to sustaining strong political commitment to the Lisbon objectives, the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) should be further strengthened, including evidence-based target-setting and increased stakeholder involvement.