The future of the social dimension in Europe
The history of the European Union clearly shows that European integration underpinned Europe’s prosperity, which in turn contributed to improving the social dimension of Europe. We have good reasons to be proud of our European social model and its comprehensive set of EU and national measures to ensure that economic progress leads to social progress.
A business environment which allows companies to create good jobs and be competitive globally is an absolute must to sustain our European way of life, to give workers and citizens opportunities to fulfil their potential, and to fight poverty and social exclusion. This is what the social dimension is about by connecting entrepreneurs, citizens and workers to the EU.
We can be proud that Europe is one of the best places to live and work in the world. This is at the core of the achievements of what we call in Europe social market economies. As part of this, the EU social policy plays a particular role in shaping the social dimension of Europe. But going beyond the EU social policy, there are two key conditions for Europe to further improve its social dimension.
The first is the need to combine social policy with sound economic policy and a strategy for increasing growth and competitiveness across all EU member states and European Economic Area (EEA). Social policies must go hand in hand with those that bring economic progress, such as fully realising the EU internal market, encouraging investment and innovation, and promoting entrepreneurship.
The second is the synergy between EU and national social policy and actions. Social policy has to fully reflect the reality of how the EU functions, bringing to life the principle of subsidiarity. This means taking action at the right level, respecting the fact that the EU’s role is to support and complement member states’ actions. Because the EU social model is based on different national models, which must be preserved. The EU needs to respect the diversity of member states’ social systems, which are based on deeply rooted political choices and societal traditions.
In view of increasing trade tensions and challenges to the multilateral rules-based order, rises in populism and the profound changes in the world of work, Europe will need to act in line with its values in a way which safeguards our global competitiveness.