Following European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s presentation of his €315 billion ‘Jobs, Growth and Investment Package’ to the European Parliament [Nov 26], Social Platform warns that the European Social Model will not survive unless a serious commitment is made to invest in ambitious and integrated social policies.
Despite Juncker’s previous assurances that he would support a “Triple A” social rating, his package is lacking investment in policies that would advance the EU’s social agenda. Heather Roy, President of Social Platform – Europe’s largest civil society alliance fighting for social justice and participatory democracy – has called on the Commission to establish a strong social pillar within the investment package: “We are still missing investment in social policies within the package that go beyond job creation and job access. Social investment is vital for both social and economic prosperity, and for achieving growth that is not only smart, but also inclusive,” she stated. Ms Roy expressed this wish to Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, during a meeting at the Annual Convention of the Platform Against Poverty and Social Exclusion [Nov 20], and stressed that it would ensure the long-awaited implementation of the Social Investment Package.
Reacting to Juncker’s warning of an “economic investment trap”, Ms Roy encouraged the Commission to use the investment package as a means to close the “social investment gap”, and to achieve all social headline targets of Europe 2020, including drastically reducing poverty and social exclusion.
To achieve a strong social dimension, Social Platform is also pushing for the inclusion of a specialist on social policies in the expert committee of the new European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) that will approve projects to be funded. The social impact of every project should be assessed – with the support of this social specialist – to ensure that it brings real added value to the EU as a whole. “Economic investment should serve the social priorities of the EU and benefit all people. President Juncker speaks of solidarity between the EU and member states; I encourage him to take this a step further and press for solidarity not just between economies, but between people, too,” explained Ms Roy.
Ms Roy continued, “The Commission has previously pledged to advance the social situation of people in the EU, millions of whom are living in poverty and are socially excluded. The investment package could have presented the Commission with a strong opportunity to finally address the EU’s social dimension with concrete actions, yet once again it seems as though it is prioritising economic investment over social, despite repeated evidence that one is not possible without the other. I therefore hope to see social investment as a key theme of the upcoming Annual Growth Survey, and that the Commission will take accountability for ensuring the dire social situation of the EU is addressed through its policies as a matter of urgency.”