Constitution, Social Europe, and the Failed Peace Project - comments Constitution, Social Europe, and the Failed Peace Project 2006-09-01T06:38:49Z https://www.treffpunkteuropa.de/Constitution-Social-Europe-and-the-Failed-Peace-Project#comment1005 2006-09-01T06:38:49Z <p><i>>I am utterly perplexed by this article. Piia - what are you trying to say ? Firstly, what is the social policy you are talking about ? Do you mean unemployment benefits and other related payments ? Or do you mean other components of the welfare state such as healthcare ?</i></p> <p>Dear Jon, I am not proposing a ready-made, unified model for Social Policies in Europe or same level of unemployment benefits here. Still I do not think that only describing the current situation and being happy about that, takes us anywhere. I am merely trying to discuss and make a theoretical experimentation - what if social policies could be used as legitimate means to bring EU closer to the citizens ?</p> <p>If EU co-ordinates and legislates on those fields also which come very close to citizens' everyday needs and life (work, family, healthcare, pensions) they SEE the added value European level can bring to social policy dec-making as well. I would see that the economic and employment policies of EU must be co-ordinated more. This requires EU social policy (Policy meaning action plan, and then whatever instruments are seen best for reaching those goals).</p> <p>I am not talking about specific benefits yet. More I want to talk about welfare models, spending and delivering ratio and structure. Even if EU countries would be close in spending, their welfare models and how much they actually deliver services, how much the social inequalities and poverty are reduced, differ more that your number lets us assume. Some states actually have more effective social policy than others, if it is tested with the above mentioned indicators.</p> <p>When I am talking about Social Policy in the framework for EU, I first and foremost mean all kinds of state (or EU) authorities' actions. Those can be legislation, soft instruments like co-ordination, financing, making a statement and having policies in general regarding and related to work. Many of these issues are already partly dealt at EU level, though competencies remain in member states.</p> <p>In practice, “EU social policy” in very rough sense of the word, would mean that some social policy aspects would be co-ordinated, only the very necessary implemented on the EU-level (those related to mobility of people, and labour, pensions, some social security benefits) mainly implemented at national (and regional level ?).</p> <p>I allow myself to refer here to Jacques Delors' idea - to start from employment policies balance the very strong economy and business related character of EU. The “unrestricted liberal nature” in my interpretation is also one reason for people (esp. French and Dutch) disliking EU (read=rejecting the Constitution).</p> <p><i>>Secondly, you state that 'More than two thirds of EU-citizens want harmonisation of social welfare systems, especially younger citizens in the 10 new member states and Greece'. Yes, that's all very well. But what might that actually entail ? In terms of spending, EU states are actually reasonably close together (in the 35%-45% of GDP bracket mostly), and of course people in the new Member States want social policies that are as generous as in some of the old 15. Further, if you asked the follow up question : would you pay an EU tax to pay for that, I'm sure the majority of people would answer 'NO'.</i></p> <p>If people realise the relationship with paying taxes and getting social security benefits, well functioning, cheap healhtcare, free education - they see that something is done with their taxmoney. This of course differs from country to country according to the political tradition- in many Scandinavian countries high-level of taxes are legitimate because of the universal welfare-system that benefits all. I do not understand why you are so sceptic about people accepting higher taxes if they can get universal services for their taxmoney ? Anyhow -“EU social policy” would not automatically require raising tax percentages, and even if it would maybe that is what people want. I do believe in the citizen's ability to realise that nothing's free. Welfare policies are a collective system against threats in life that we all have to cope with (birth, sickness, getting old) and thus it is legitimate to pay for such a system collectively.</p> <p><i>>As far as I am concerned, the EU in the short to medium term has neither the means nor the financial resources to carry out any meaningful social policy (whatever that is). It should instead focus far more narrowly on the promotion of initiatives to get Europe's economies growing again - cooperation on R&D, pushing states to invest in education etc.</i></p> <p>I fully agree with you, but describing how the current budget system and financing functions in the present day EU does not make us the generation ahead. Allow yourself dream a bit and be more creative..I am trying to imagine how the things in EU SHOULD be, not how they ARE or nor how they probably WILL BE.</p> <p>Financing social policy actions requires naturally fundamental budget/financing reform for EU. This I do not see in the near future either. Just a new way of allocating competencies and reform of EU budget and the whole way of thinking on how to finance EU. By changing the EU budgetary system into fiscal federalism, which I believe you also support, this could be done on long-term ?</p> <p>In federations - by definition- resources are reallocated. Social policy is reallocation of resources between richer and poorer, generations and regions. In other words giving equal chances to underprivileged groups or regions in the society by using positive discrimination as a tool. The calls for better social security systems coming from new MS's was expected- natural process as their living standards get higher and they see how the old EU has designed their social policies. The differences btw old and new EU in social policies will diminish naturally. To the liberal, undressing of welfare state model -direction, or to Scandinavian “flexicurity”- model which can be combined (or increases) with very competitive economy, I do not know ? This is a matter of party politics. IN any case, the implementation and financing should follow the principle of subsidiarity. EU social model by no means would be a centralised, unified system. It'd mainly be related to creating legislation/directives on those areas which are needed to ensure the free movement of labour and thus the effective allocation of labour force (which is needed to make EU economies function effectively because businesses need more labour mobility). This already is a vast area of actions.</p> <p>Social policy can be used as an instrument to balance the mainly economic/business related aspects of EU integration. Free movement of people does not work well enough and some regions that would maybe need labour force are not getting it because there are no incentives for people to move around Europe and work. EU regulations to promote the chances of women to work/career, encourage (financial incentives) men to take responsibility at private sphere to complement the areas women have been mainly responsible before, for instance could be one specific social policy issue on which EU could produce added-value. Not to forget the demographic time bomb, (in 2030 one fourth of population in EU-25 will be +65 years) one of the major common social policy problems looming ahead in the whole EU. “Britain actually is an exception in the EU-25 because of the migration and thus younger population. Congratulations..” We will face The Problem with elderly people and the care and pensions of them, sorry to put it so bluntly. This will be a hard burden for the health- and elderly-care systems. Huge sums of money are at stake. I believe these issues should be under scrutiny and better policy-making at EU-level in a different way they are at the moment. I see social policy at EU level as an instrument to reach the same things you seem to think can be reached without it. I believe that people are the most important and fundamental factor in making the economy grow. For me social policy means investing to a broad base of human resources, i.e. to people.</p> <p>Just a thought play- if EU would be using as much money and effort on social policies, as it does on CAP- what would be the result now ? More worker mobility, better quality work force, better education system, real European space for education and research, higher birth-rates and rates of female engagement to working and business life -> higher competitivity and Lisbon goals closer ?</p> <p>I hope this cleared out a bit what I wrote before. If not, I warmly welcome everyone to start defining this very tricky concept together. Maybe JEF at least could enter into this "swamp" as the generation ahead.</p> Constitution, Social Europe, and the Failed Peace Project 2006-08-29T23:03:49Z https://www.treffpunkteuropa.de/Constitution-Social-Europe-and-the-Failed-Peace-Project#comment996 2006-08-29T23:03:49Z <p>I am utterly perplexed by this article. Piia - what are you trying to say ?</p> <p>Firstly, what <i>is</i> the social policy you are talking about ? Do you mean unemployment benefits and other related payments ? Or do you mean other components of the welfare state such as healthcare ?</p> <p>Secondly, you state that 'More than two thirds of EU-citizens want harmonisation of social welfare systems, especially younger citizens in the 10 new member states and Greece'. Yes, that's all very well. But what might that actually entail ? In terms of spending, EU states are actually reasonably close together (in the 35%-45% of GDP bracket mostly), and of course people in the new Member States want social policies that are as generous as in some of the old 15. Further, if you asked the follow up question : would you pay an EU tax to pay for that, I'm sure the majority of people would answer 'NO'.</p> <p>As far as I am concerned, the EU in the short to medium term has neither the means nor the financial resources to carry out any meaningful social policy (whatever that is). It should instead focus far more narrowly on the promotion of initiatives to get Europe's economies growing again - cooperation on R&D, pushing states to invest in education etc.</p>