Stop austerity and focus on social investment

On the occasion of the EPSCO Council meeting of June 20-21 Social Platform and its members call on the Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs to adopt concrete actions to counterbalance the financial and economic dimension of the EU with a stronger social dimension.

In the last years, many member states implemented austerity measures which drastically targeted expenditure in social and health services, social protection and education. This sole focus on reducing public deficits and debt has contributed to the increase of poverty and social exclusion (+ 4 million people between 2010 and 2011), inequalities and unemployment in the EU (+3 million in 3 years), as well as worsening the divide between the south/periphery and north.

With the aim of responding to the crisis the EPSCO Council meeting of Ministers will formulate recommendations for the European Council on the 2013 Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) and will discuss the Commission’s Social Investment Package (SIP). EU policy and in particular the European Semester should have as their goal the wellbeing of all people, if implemented in an appropriate manner the SIP and CSRs could have the potential to reach that goal.

It is clear that austerity measures do not work, the data on the situation in countries under Troika programme arrangements show that the policy of prioritising economic and fiscal consolidation is not working and that an alternative is required. The failure to set CSRs for these countries sends the message that these countries are excluded from Europe 2020.

In order to re-balance the financial and economic dimension of the EU with a stronger social dimension Social Platform calls on the Ministers to:

  • Restore the Europe 2020 targets as an explicit objective of the Semester

Although we welcome the increased in the number of CSRs on poverty, employment, education and care and health services, the overriding message is about reducing public deficits and debt, primarily through reducing public expenditure. This will very likely generate increased poverty and social exclusion and undermine the coherence of the social CSRs and their potential for delivery on the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

  • Support the SIP in their conclusions to the European Council and for the EU and member states to commit to its full implementation

We however reject conditionality to basic benefits and services. We also understand effectiveness and efficiency of social services as spending in a better way and not necessarily spending less and Heads of State should consider the cost of non-investment in the social, health and economic situation of their citizens.

Read our full letter to the Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs

Read our full position on the Social Investment Package