*Update March 2011* The Council adopted the main messages of the report on the social dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy. This report concentrates on progress towards the EU headline target on social inclusion/poverty reduction.
*Update March 2011*
Social Affairs Ministers adopted conclusions highlighted the role of employment and education policies in the fight against poverty, during the EPSCO Council on the 7 March 2011.
The reform social protection systems should both aim at ensuring their sustainability and adequacy. Ensuring the sustainable financing of high quality social services is also crucial, explain social affairs Ministers of the 27 EU Member States.
Ensuring universal access to quality care for all will require renewed efforts to maintain an efficient health sector. Increasing effectiveness and the sustainability of healthcare and long-term care due to cuts in public spending and an ageing population will be necessary, including through innovative and coordinated health and social care delivery, such as integrated pathways for the treatment of chronic diseases. Investing in health promotion and disease prevention (including mental health problems) can bring high returns in both in social and economic terms.
The report streses that a targeted approach is necessary to preventing and fighting homelessness and housing exclusion; to addressing fuel poverty and financial exclusion.
The Social Protection Commmittee urges the Commission and Member States to consider the need to strengthen their capacity to assess the social impacts of their major policy and spending decisions as part of overall impact assessments,
The Social Protection Committee will provide input on the social dimension of Europe 2020 to the EPSCO Council. The EPSCO Council will:
examine progress towards the EU headline target on social inclusion and poverty reduction, and
monitor the implementation of structural reforms designed to deliver inclusive growth at national and EU levels through the National Reform Programmes that will be prepared in accordance with the new set of integrated guidelines 6.
The SPC contribution to EPSCO on Europe 2020 will be based on the following activities:
Monitoring implementation of social aspects of the integrated guidelines, focussing in particular on integrated guideline 10;
Conducting OMC work to monitor the social situation and development of social protection policies.
Providing its contribution to foster positive interactions between the social OMC activities and the future flagship initiative intended to support the fight against poverty and social exclusion, expected to be presented by the Commission at the end of 2010
The SPC work on the Europe 2020 Strategy will be structured along the calendar of the European semester. Social OMC activities, including the annual thematic focus, will be mainly implemented during the second semester of the cycle. The SPC will conduct reviews of the social situation and the development of social protection policies.
The report brought up that policy makers need to examine how current national plans and strategies for social protection and inclusion will feed into the National Reform Programmes under Europe 2020. Historically, these national action plans allowed for participation from civil society organisations. The SPC will address this issue in 2011 on the basis of the experience of the first NRPs to be presented in April 2011 and then present its position to the EPSCO Council.
The SPC will issue an annual report on the social situation and the development of social protection policies, including an assessment of the social dimension of Europe 2020. This report will be transmitted to the EPSCO Council preparing the Spring European Council.
The SPC report will be structured around the following parts:
Assessment of progress towards the EU headline target on social inclusion and poverty reduction
Monitoring the implementation of social aspects of the Integrated Guidelines, in particular of IG 10
OMC work to monitor the social situation and the development of social protection policies
The interim version will be prepared by SPC at its November and December meetings and the final version will be adopted by the SPC at its February meeting. The first SPC report assessing the social dimension of Europe 2020 will be adopted by the SPC in February 2011 with a view to its transmission to EPSCO preparing the 2011 Spring European Council.
The report concludes by highlighting the need for involvement of all stakeholders, including people experiencing poverty.
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