At its plenary sitting of 20 November 2012, the European Parliament adopted a report "Social Investment Pack - as a response to the crisis" by Danuta Jazlowiecka MEP (PL, EPP). Recognizing the long-lasting effects of the current economic and financial crisis on economic growth, employment rates, the level of poverty and social exclusion, public savings and the quantity and quality of social investments in Europe, the report calls for a renewed approach to Social Investments in Europe.
The report calls for a renewed approach to social investments in Europe by greater emphasis on the generation of social and economic returns, addressing emerging social risks and neglected needs, as well as focusing on public policies and human capital investment strategies.
Specifically, it notes that all public social, education and health services, together with related services sourced from miscellaneous providers, can be considered social investments. They should be an important part of EU and MS economic and employment policies and their response to the crisis.
To this end, the report points to a potential for facilitating and focusing on social entrepreneurship and access to microfinance for vulnerable groups and those furthest away from the labour market. EPHA specifically believes that such an approach should target the Roma, migrants, thendisabled and youth - with due attention to geographical and gender equality.
Activating welfare states would need to focus on:
helping the unemployed get back to work, by creating an innovative and dynamic environment as well as by providing tailor-made solutions and necessary training;
combatting youth unemployment by developing partnerships between schools, training centres and local or regional businesses, providing training and high quality youth internship programmes, vocational schemes in cooperation with enterprises; promoting entrepreneurship as well asa European youth guaranteeand creating incentives for employers to engage graduates; securing a better transition from education to work and promoting European and regional mobility;
boosting economic growth with a view to create quality and sustainable jobs for both women and men; improving work productivity as well as work distribution;
improving well-being at work and reducing the causes of withdrawal from professional life, such as accidents at work, mental health problems in the workplace and poor working conditions;
investing in lifelong education and training for all age groups by putting special emphasis on early childhood education;
investing in innovation, especially related to climate change, energy efficiency, health and ageing populations;
eliminating the causes of gender segregation in the labour market;
enhancing the balance between the flexibility and security of employment contracts to promote employment and help in reconciling family and professional life; address labour market segmentation, invest in services – such as affordable, fulltime and high- quality childcare, all-day school places and care for elderly – that help promote gender equality, foster a better work/life balance and create a framework which allows people to enter or re-enter the labour market;
fighting poverty, socialand medical exclusion, with a particular focus on preventive and proactive work;
Better governance throughthe Social Investment Pact
Member States should make better efforts to include social investments in their medium and long-term budgetary targets, as well as in their National Reform Programmes;
the European Council and the Commission should better monitor the implementation and achievement of employment and social targets of the Europe 2020 strategy;
Member States should consider signing to a ‘Social Investment Pact’, which sets investment targets and creates a reinforced control mechanism for improving efforts to meet the employment, social and education targets of the Europe 2020 strategy;
the Commission should take all possible measures to encourage and assist Member States to sign the ‘Social Investment Pact’, and to introduce evaluation of employment, social and education goals in the European Semester 2013;
the Member States to ensure that the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 contains appropriate budgetary resources to stimulate and support social investments in Europe, and that the available funding can be used in a rational and efficient way, and to make the Structural Funds, especially the European Social Fund, supportive of social investments.
EPHA will work with other members of civil society to ensure an ambitious social investment pact with a strong health dimension. The adoption of this report is a strong message to the Commission on what Members of the Parliament expect to see in the proposal for a social investment package, due to be proposed in 2013.