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Long-term care: How to organise affordable, sustainable long-term care given the constraints of collective versus individual arrangements and responsibilities (Netherlands)
In the Netherlands (as in many EU countries) the question of how to keep long-term care affordable is a burning issue. For such care to be not only affordable but sustainable, accessible and of good quality requires a number of conditions to be met:
Getting women back into the labour market (Germany)
Raising the employment rate of women across the EU to the Lisbon target of 60% or above is not only important in the context of an ageing work force and the prospective decline of working-age population in EU Member States but is a major means of ensuring that women have the same opportunity to pursue a working career as men. Studies, therefore, show that at present women are severely restricted by the responsibility of caring for children, which ultimately tends to fall on them rather than on their partners, from having a full-time job.
Social impact assessment (Slovakia)
A distinguishing feature of EU policy objectives is that they place as much emphasis on the achievement of social goals as on economic or political aims. While social policies have a prominent role in all Member States in attaining such goals - of, for example, ensuring equality of opportunity for all sections of the population - it is also the case that policies in other areas can assist in this respect. At the very least, it is important to ensure that such policies do not have adverse effects on the attainment of social goals if only to avoid having to implement social measures to rectify or offset these effects and, accordingly, having to bear the cost of this in a context where budget constraints tend to limit social expenditure.
Support Fund for the reception and integration of immigrants and their educational support (Spain)
Migrants in nearly all EU countries are particularly vulnerable to the risk of poverty and social exclusion. In most countries, therefore, according to the evidence available, they have on average lower rates of employment and higher rates of unemployment than non-migrants as well as higher rates of school drop-out and homelessness which together tend to give rise to significantly lower levels of income and more widespread deprivation. At the same time, given the slow growth of population throughout the EU and a prospective decline in population of working age in the coming years, migrants are seen as an increasingly important source of labour.
Cost containment in the pharmaceutical sector: Innovative approaches to contracting while ensuring fair access to drugs (Germany)
Pharmaceuticals give rise to conflicting interests. On the one hand, it is important for doctors and their patients to have wide and equitable access to the drugs they need for treatment and, accordingly, for costs to be affordable, while at the same time avoiding over-prescription and wasteful use. On the other, it is equally important that the companies producing pharmaceuticals are able to make sufficient profit to make investment in new drugs worthwhile. Given the social dimension together with the fact that it is public agencies or health insurance funds rather than the final consumers who are effectively the purchasers of pharmaceuticals, the price mechanism, unlike in other markets, cannot be left free to determine the balance between supply and demand.
The social economy from the perspective of active inclusion (Belgium)
The potential of the social economy to create jobs and at the same time to provide much needed services has been recognised for some time. In 1999, the European Employment Guidelines highlighted this potential and the importance of realising it (Exploiting new opportunities for job creation, Guideline 12), while in 2001, the Guidelines for the National Action Plans for Employment emphasised the need to develop the social economy under the entrepreneurship pillar. Co-operatives, mutual societies and social enterprises in general have, therefore, come to be regarded as important sources of entrepreneurship and jobs in areas where traditional `investor-driven' enterprise structures may not always be viable. Recent figures indicate that approximately 9 million people are at present employed in the social economy in the EU.
Public information on pension systems and pension system changes (Poland)
Pension reforms have taken place in most Member States and have often become a continuous process. In this context, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the people concerned to understand how the changes introduced affect them and how they should respond. Moreover, for Member States where funded pensions are expected to have a growing role, more attention in public policies should be devoted to financial literacy. There is widespread recognition in Member States that the level of financial literacy among the general public is inadequate for people to be able to choose intelligently between the various options open to them.
Initiatives by the social partners for improving the labour market access of disadvantaged groups (Austria)
Access to employment is a key requirement for people to be able to avoid the risk of poverty and social exclusion. In 2007, the Commission published a Communication stating that a more strategic approach was needed to ensure that those disadvantaged are integrated into the job market in the longer-term and not just the short-term. The aim, therefore, should be to ensure access not only to employment as such but to jobs which are stable and provide a reasonable level of income over a number of years.