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Are Europeans fit for globalisation? - 11/04/2008

Nine babies each sitting upright in a cot

'Yes' says latest report on the social impact of the EU's growing economic integration with the outside world.

Fears that the "European social model" with its high levels of social protection can no longer be sustained appear unfounded, says a report on globalisation from the Centre for European Policy Studies.

While globalisation has generated new growth and development opportunities, many Europeans fear its negative social impact. But the study found no compelling evidence that globalisation leads inexorably to a ‘race-to-the-bottom’ in social policy, or impedes European society’s capacity to maintain its commitments to social justice and equality.

Nevertheless, it does warn there is a need for more rapid adaptation to shifting economic trends and fresh thinking about the role of social policy in adjusting to new sources of competition – whether due to technological change or the other effects of globalisation.

Social policy has several roles to play in responding to this challenge, which is why the Commission has decided to hold a major conference on 16 April – to discuss the social impact of globalisation and the available policy options for dealing with it. Attendees will include European leaders, family and social affairs ministers and one of the study's authors.

The event will help the Commission prepare for a renewed EU social agenda, to be adopted before the summer.

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