The European Commission has called on Member States to prioritise social investment and to modernise their welfare states. This means better performing active inclusion strategies and a more efficient and more effective use of social budgets.
© Fabrice Lerouge
The call features in a Communication on Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion just adopted by the Commission, which also gives guidance to Member States on how best to use EU financial support, notably from the European Social Fund, to implement the outlined objectives.
The Commission will closely monitor the performance of individual Member States' social protection systems through the European Semester and formulate, where necessary, country specific recommendations.
The social investment package gives guidance to Member States on more efficient and effective social policies in response to the significant challenges they currently face. These include high levels of financial distress, increasing poverty and social exclusion, as well as record unemployment, especially among young people. These are combined with the challenge of ageing societies and smaller working age populations, which test the sustainability and adequacy of national social systems.
The social investment package includes a Commission Recommendation against child poverty, calling for an integrated approach to child-friendly social investment.
The social investment package is an integrated policy framework which takes account of the social, economic and budgetary divergences between Member States. It focusses on:
- Ensuring that social protection systems respond to people's needs at critical moments throughout their lives. More needs to be done to reduce the risk of social breakdown and so avoid higher social spending in the future.
- Simplified and better targeted social policies, to provide adequate and sustainable social protection systems. Some countries have better social outcomes than others despite having similar or lower budgets, demonstrating that there is room for more efficient social policy spending.
- Upgrading active inclusion strategies in the Member States. Affordable quality childcare and education, prevention of early school leaving, training and job-search assistance, housing support and accessible health care are all policy areas with a strong social investment dimension.