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Social Indicators Are Not Enough
[25/06/2013]

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On Thursday June 27, European Heads of state and government will meet at the European Council to discuss the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Social Platform has called on the Council to r-ebalance the financial and economic dimension of the EU with a stronger social dimension to ensure an EU that is focused on the well-being of its people. The recently leaked draft Council conclusions propose to monitor social imbalances in Europe but do not propose any concrete measures to respond to social problems. Without counter measures the EMU will not have a fully implemented and integrated social dimension.

We hope that the Council will go beyond the development of social and employment indicators, as these are not sufficient to address the current social emergency”, says Heather Roy, President of Social Platform.

“The Council must adopt a prevention and correction mechanism that will ensure policy reforms do not challenge or undercut national social standards and that actions are taken when social imbalances emerge. We want concrete proposals to move towards social standards which can ensure a level playing field and reduce imbalances. The EMU needs a strong social dimension or there will be no lessons learnt from the detrimental social impact of fiscal and economic policies implemented over the last three years”.

In the last years, many countries have implemented austerity measures that drastically target 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 three years), as well as worsening the divide between the impoverished south/periphery and a richer north.

The draft Council conclusions leaked last week state that “it is important to better monitor and take into account social and labour market imbalances within the EMU, notably by using social and employment indicators within the European semester”. However, a genuine social dimension of the EMU must be more than only the monitoring of social indicators - as indicators only assess the social damage of economic policies and do not solve and address the actual problem.

Social Platform is asking member states to adopt a prevention and correction mechanism that will ensure policy reforms do not undercut or challenge national social standards and that actions are taken when social imbalances emerge. These actions should also be integrated in the contracts for competitiveness and growth between the EU and individual member states.

The social dimension of the EMU, if properly developed, could be a first step in ensuring the rebalancing and re-focusing of the European Union for the well being of people and to ensure that inclusive, as well as sustainable and smart growth is achieved.

Read our full letter to the European Council