Four new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on social policy developments in Finland, France, Kosovo and Malta.
In Finland, the lockdown measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have had a substantial impact on the labour market. Since the existing social security system has cushioned the negative socio-economic effects, only a few temporary emergency measures have been introduced: easing of eligibility conditions for unemployment benefits, temporary assistance for parents who were taking care of their children while the schools were closed and epidemic compensation for social assistance recipients.
In response to the demand for participatory democracy expressed by the “Yellow Jackets”, the French president assembled 150 randomly selected citizens and gave them a mandate to propose solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative ended in June 2020 with the presentation of 146 proposals. While this shows that tools to develop participatory democracy are feasible and worthwhile, the initiative’s effectiveness will have to be judged by its capacity to generate policies at national and subnational level. The initial mandate to apply a social justice approach throughout was only met in 8% of the proposals.
The reform of the Social Assistance Scheme in Kosovo foresees an updated set of eligibility criteria, a new poverty test, a more generous equivalence scale (giving more weight to larger households) and binding labour activation measures. These should strengthen the scheme’s universality and its workfare dimension, increase benefit levels and reduce poverty more effectively.
The Housing Authority in Malta has unveiled a scheme that will help households with autistic members (children or adults) to create a multi-sensory room at home where sensory input can be controlled. This new scheme is part of a holistic care process and will help those concerned to follow therapy plans at home, and increase their well-being.
(*) This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence