SOCIAL AFFAIRS: EXPERTS BACK GLOBALISATION FUND AND NORDIC MODEL.

 
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Each of the six papers, which were published as a complement to the summit, were penned by individual experts. One focuses on climate change, another on immigration, with a call to "rapidly" lift temporary work bans imposed by all the 'old' member states - bar the UK, Ireland and Sweden - on citizens from Central and Eastern European countries. The remaining four papers touch upon the EU's proposed 'globalisation fund', education and the European social model - its 'caring' dimension and some crucial lessons to be learned from the Nordic countries.

Going global.

Loukas Tsoukalis, a professor at the University of Athens and the College of Europe and one of the world's leading scholars on European integration, explains "Why we need a globalisation adjustment fund". This is the clear-cut title of his paper on a contested subject: the UK and France support it, but German Chancellor-in-waiting Angela Merkel and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen have expressed scepticism, as have the leaders of several central and eastern European member states.

The European Commission has suggested that the new fund will not have an annual budget inside the medium-term financial perspective and that resources will only be called upon when required and subject to an annual ceiling. The fund will therefore operate as a kind of "crisis mechanism". Its aim is not to bail out failing companies but to help workers learn new skills and find new jobs when European industries fall victim to global competition.

Mr Tsoukalis argues that for the EU to be an effective agent of reform, "it needs a stronger caring dimension". And the fund fits the bill, as it is an attempt "to combine the language of reform with measures of solidarity". Moreover, it will not require more bureaucracy, as it will be able to use existing instruments, most notably the European Social Fund.

So the proposal "has many merits", he claims. In terms of the EU's current image problem, it clearly shows that the EU is not concerned exclusively with market liberalisation. "It is backed up by real money and not just declarations, which has so often been the case with European social policy", writes Mr Tsoukalis. "It is intended to promote change, instead of trying to resist it."

'Activating knowledge'.

Luc Soete, a professor of international economics at Maastricht University, makes a case in his paper on "Activating knowledge" to do just that, primarily by boosting private funding of universities...

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