Social protection: EU now must put the money where its mouth is

Solidarity, social cohesion and social protection are on the agenda of EU institutions and their leaders. But how it is being discussed? What proposals are on the table? A year before the EP elections, do EU enthusiasts have what it needs to convince citizens that the EU institutions can bring positive changes in their lives?

Last month in Florence at the State of the Union Conference focused on Solidarity in Europe, they were stating the obvious reason that “European solidarity is in high demand but short supply”. What a great start for a high level debate including 4 heads of States and many EU leaders! Participating in the event Social Platform President Jana Hainsworth left with the sad conclusion that speakers’ inputs unfortunately showed that “when it comes to putting the brakes on our own egos and self-importance it gets much more difficult” and that “Solidarity is much easier to talk about in abstract intellectual terms than it is to realise in practice”!

In practical terms, realising solidarity and social cohesion can be achieved through EU funding and our first assessment of the budgetary proposals released last week is that the so-called cohesion and values cluster can constitute a good overarching framework to better invest in people. Firstly, by setting up effective monitoring and implementation mechanisms on the ground to ensure realisation of human rights. Secondly, by opening new opportunities for civil society to engage in this framework, as explained in our blog “Positive steps for future cohesion policy objectives are not enough for a true social “triple A” across Europe.”

Involving civil society was a clear missing element in the high level State of the Union debates in Florence, which we highlighted in the following op-ed published in Euractiv. It’s also at the core of our blog on social protection, as vibrant and active civil society community are engine of social changes in Europe.

Proving that EU leaders will put their money where their mouths are to bring the necessary social changes will be a crucial success factor to win the hearts and mind of citizens before the next EP elections. So a word to the wise.