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Europe's Social Reality: A ‘stocktaking’
Dramatic changes are underway in European societies: in the nature of work; modern family life; demographic trends; the position of women in society; social mobility and the incidence of poverty and inequality. Values are changing and societies are becoming increasingly multicultural. This social dynamic presents new challenges.
Developing modern policy responses requires a clear understanding of our changing social realities. To seek a wide range of views on these social changes, the Commission launched a public consultation on the ‘social reality’ of Europe, on the basis of a background document [245 KB] of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers of the European Commission. The consultation, which ended on 15 February 2008, aimed to generate debate on social realities across Europe.
Building on initial results from this consultation, the Commission on 20 November 2007 adopted a Communication on "Opportunities, access and solidarity: towards a new social vision for 21st century Europe" [COM(2007)726] . setting out a range of possible first responses to Europe's social and societal challenges.
The final results of this stocktaking have been published as a Commission Staff Working Document (SEC(2008)1896) [81 KB] . They underline the rapid pace of social change – new family and working patterns, changing values, weakening bonds between generations, new job opportunities, demands for new skills, mobility and diversity.
Furthermore, a Social Agenda Forum was organised on 5/6 May 2008, with a view to provide a platform for stakeholders — representatives from Member States, European Institutions, social partners, civil society and experts — to discuss the outcome of the social reality stocktaking exercise and the broad policy orientations for a renewed Social Agenda.
The Forum was opened by a speech of Commissioner Vladimir Špidla and concluded by President Barroso, summarising the Commission's conclusions from the stocktaking exercise and how they would translate into the preparation of the renewed social agenda.