The European Commission has recently published the social investment package, a set of recommendations for member states to ensure that a social investment euro is a euro towards growth. This is good news, echoing the surprise triggered by the announcement of a discord budget, contested by Parliament. It must be remembered that the Lisbon Treaty supported Europe's political power, raising co-decision to the status of an ordinary legislative procedure. The European Parliament has the same weighting as the European Council on texts proposed by the Commission, except that it did not participate in the Commission's annual examination of growth in preparation of the European semester' 2013 of economic governance. It therefore expressed its opinion by adopting the initiative report on social investment.
Europe is no longer being built between wars: peace brings security to exchanges, and more importantly, changes the perceptions of the 500 million Europeans, 400 million of whom elect their representatives.
The economic crisis and the danger brought to the European zone by the fragility of the situation in Greece have highlighted the inter-dependency of member states. Regardless of what national conservatism might prefer, issues of living and solidarity can no longer be contained within national boundaries.
This is the meaning behind social investment on a European scale: designing modernisation of the European social model, beyond the concept of a providence state and more "smart, sustainable and inclusive growth," as stated by the Europe 2020' strategy.
Neither Parliament's own-initiative report nor the Commission's recommendations set a legal framework but they offer member states a balance between the consolidation of budgets that is essential but immediate and support for promoting growth and employment in the long term. Supporting social housing, limiting youth unemployment, organising lifelong learning are all objectives associated with lasting growth.
The issues raised by Europe's ageing population, the first challenge mentioned in the Commission's social investment communication, and the diminishing population of working age reveal the economic vulnerability of the elderly, and of elderly women in particular. Structural funds, instruments designed to improve social and territorial cohesion and bringing hope for all changes, will serve as levers to enable, for example, fragile seniors to continue to live at home.
If these are the...