Social investment can only make a difference if policy makers commit to its full implementation

On May 2 and 3, the European Commission together with the Irish EU Presidency is organising a conference on the Social Investment Package (SIP), that was published by the Commission in February this year. Our new President, Heather Roy, will address the conference participants during the opening session. On this occasion, she will present our views on social investment and our assessment of the Commission's Package.

Social Platform
welcomes the paradigm change that appears to be embedded in the Social Investment Package. It is in line with our view that social policies and services are not a cost but an investment for better cohesion in our societies at present and for the future. In the last years many member states have implemented austerity measures which drastically targeted expenditure in social and health services, social protection and education and especially in those countries where the social and economic situation is the worst. This has contributed to the increase of poverty and social exclusion, inequalities and unemployment in the EU. These problems are exacerbated for vulnerable groups and other people facing discrimination or disadvantage. It has also led to a worsening of the divide between Northern-Central Europe and Southern countries, and in the latter to the emergence of new social and non-mainstream political movements and growing political instability.

The Package could provide an opportunity to reorient the current policies towards a much needed re-balancing of social and economic policies both at EU and member state level. It should be the first step towards a longer-term political agenda and towards an effective alternative for the austerity paradigm.

At the same time, we are concerned about some elements of the package, as well as about its future impact if it is not backed up by a strong political commitment to social investment of both the EU institutions and member states.

As Social Platform we agree that social investment is the provision and use of finance to generate both social and economic returns, aimed at addressing emerging social risks and unmet needs for the well-being of people and socially cohesive societies. It should be seen as part of a larger social welfare state “package” which is based on different pillars that are interconnected, mutually reinforcing and cannot be dealt with separately: social protection and income support, social and health promotion and investment, and stabilisation of the economy. Therefore, social investment cannot be prioritised over social protection as both are effective only when they are combined.

The Social Investment Package can only make a real difference and have an impact on social policies, if the EU and member states commit to its full implementation. To this end, we call on the European Commission to provide member states with support and guidance.

We will deliver concrete recommendations on how to implement the package at a later stage.

You can read our full position on the SIP here.