Policy Paper 36

Social Europe and the crisis: Defining a new Agenda

Europe is now in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades.This paper provides some reflections and policy recommendations on how to address the two challenges – short-term and long-term – Social Europe is currently confronted with.

Europe is now in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades. The effects of this downturn on households and workers are starting to be visible and point to the importance of involving the EU in the definition and provision of social responses to the crisis. Such involvement cannot consist of add-ons to existing programmes, as it has been the case so far.

The crisis calls for a reform of the EU modes of social governance and a certain shift in EU social policy thinking. The emphasis on labour market activation, which has inspired EU employment and social policies during recent years, has to be mitigated in favour of a more balanced approach between social promotion, social prevention and social protection measures.

Beyond this, the crisis invites thought on how to preserve the European Social Model.

As we approach the close of the Lisbon strategy, it is time to redress the balance in favour of social issues and look for the definition of a new EU long-term strategy, one effectively geared to promote socially-inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth.