Europäische Union - 09.02.2005 - von Daniela Mitchener
Citizens’ confidence will plummet with the new Social Agenda
The new Commission has again demonstrated its lack of vision with today’s Communication on the Social Agenda. Following last week’s ‘revision’ of the Lisbon strategy, the Commission’s Social Agenda reflects the new stark reality for social policy: it has been marginalised and weakened in the face of the growth-first approach.
“The new Social Agenda should be designed to regain citizens’ confidence in the ability of the EU to manage change. If the Commission is fully committed to the modernization and development of the European social model as well as the promotion of social cohesion, as stated in the Social Agenda communication, it should propose strong social policies to complement and support the growth and employment objectives,”’ said Social Platform President, Anne-Sophie Parent. “But the new Commission has abandoned the social pillar of Lisbon, and the result is the weak Social Agenda being published today.”
When the first Social Policy Agenda was produced in 2001, the Commission confidently based its actions on the triangle of economic, employment, and social policies, knowing that they would support each other to help the EU achieve the Lisbon objectives. The Social Platform, which published its own concrete proposals for the Social Policy Agenda in October 2004, believes that there is a complete shift of priorities in the Commission’s document, which despite a quick reference to the fundamental principles of the Union enshrined in the new Constitution has left the Social Agenda devoid of concrete commitments to the EU’s social objectives.
‘As Mr Barroso’s proposals for the Lisbon strategy showed, the battle has been won for the time being, by those who want to abandon the EU’s social commitments,’ stated Anne-Sophie Parent. ‘This is very bad news not only for those who risk being left behind in Mr Barroso’s new Europe, those who will remain at risk of poverty and discrimination but for all citizens if the EU looks only to economic success as its universal cure.”
A recent survey in France shows that 73% of the citizens feel that “things are deteriorating and have less confidence in the future”. “We, European NGO networks know that this feeling is shared everywhere in the EU and the citizens are loosing confidence in the decision-makers to manage change, added Parent.
Instead of an inclusive vision based on fundamental rights, the Commission talks of ‘giving citizens the confidence in their own ability’ to deal with huge economic and social changes. In other words: “You are on your own – survival of the fittest replaces social solidarity.” Social NGOs are appalled at the lack of reference to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – supposedly at the heart of the European vision!
The fate of the EU’s social inclusion strategy is also not clear, instead, we get a European Year to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion in 2010 – but what happens to the EU’s commitment to achieve a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty before that date?!
Instead of commitments to take action to end discrimination and promote gender equality, we get proposals for studies and Communications.
Parent concluded: ‘We agree with the Commission that we are facing huge social and economic challenges across Europe. But we feel that the Commission should have the confidence to promote social policies as an essential productive factor in creating a Europe which combines economic growth, jobs, and social cohesion. Growth and employment will not deliver greater social cohesion unless there is real political commitment behind it. You only need to look at the American model to see that there is no automatic links between a strong economy and a cohesive and inclusive society. We still believe in the inclusive vision of our European social model – are we meant to believe the Commission still does too?’
More reactions on these proposals are available on www.socialplatform.org
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