In the light of the current social slump, the European Commission is urging member states to improve the performance of their social protection systems. On 20 February, it adopted a social investment package, which covers child poverty, homelessness, health care, activating the unemployed, and Community funding. However, within this slightly ragbag strategy (which comprises a total of nine documents) is hidden a timely political message: the Commission is warning against irresponsible cuts to social spending.
"Within existing budget constraints, member states need to shift their focus to investment in human capital and social cohesion. This can make a real difference if we want to make real progress towards the objectives of the Europe 2020' strategy. Social investment today helps to prevent member states having to pay much higher financial and social bills tomorrow," announced Laszlo Andor, commissioner for employment, social affairs and social inclusion.
The communication is calling on member states to put more emphasis on their policies on child care, education, training, the job market, housing benefits, reintegration and health care. It is also proposing simplifying and better targeting social policies.
Among other measures, the Commission has proposed improving financing of social protection systems, for example via efficient collection of revenue and the extension of tax bases, as well as simplifying allocation systems and their management both for users and providers, particularly via the creation of single points of contact and the establishment of a reference budget (a list of goods and services).
More specifically, the recommendation invites member states to organise and implement policies aimed at tackling poverty and social exclusion among children, and to improve the wellbeing of children via multidimensional strategies. The working document on long-term health care calls on member states to take measures to increase the autonomy of people with light care needs, while providing affordable and quality...