“Europe 2020 is the EU’s growth strategy for the coming decade. In a changing world, we want the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. These three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.

The Union has set five ambitious objectives - on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy - to be reached by 2020. Each Member State has adopted its own national targets in each of these areas. Concrete actions at EU and national levels underpin the strategy” said José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.

[EPHA briefing] Health in the Europe 2020 Strategy

EPHA, as part of the EESC’s Civil Society Organisations’ liaison group, expects that the review of Europe 2020:

  • Encourages a better protection of social, education and cultural budgets when developing policies to tackle macro-economic imbalances;
  • increases social investments, particularly in the light of the European Commission’s Social Investment Package (2013);
  • develops a true and integrated anti-poverty and social inclusion strategy at EU and national level; to mainstream social targets in all other policies;
  • invests in the creation of access to and progression in quality and sustainable employment.


1. Active Labour Market Policy

We call for the inclusion of the Youth Guarantee as one of the elements to be reported on within the Semester’s indicators, in the National Reform Programmes (NRPs), and to be followed up by the Commission and Council in the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) and in the Annual Growth Survey (AGS).

We call for Europe 2020 to foster equal access for all to quality education.

The role of creative and critical thinking, fostered by cultural activities for the development of people’s skills, is a priority. We call for an approach of social and human investment that includes cultural assets and resources.

We also call for a reinforcement of the EURES portal, which should ensure fair mobility and enhance access of workers to quality jobs. We expect the NRPs to include more measures to create new employment through tax incentives and employment subsidies, notably for the most vulnerable groups in society, including NEETs (young people Not in Employment Education or Training).

2. Social Services

We expect the review of Europe 2020 to rebalance budgetary policies in favour of social investment, and to ensure the right for all to access affordable and high-quality social services.

We call on Europe 2020 to provide more guidance and to better monitor the implementation of the partnership principle in the implementation of funding programmes, notably the European Social Fund (ESF).

3. Poverty Preventing Minimum Income and Minimum Wages

We call for the setting of adequate minimum income schemes in all member states for children, for people of active age who are unable to earn sufficient income, and for older people.

We call on the EU to use the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Semester to promote the setting of non-discriminatory minimum wages in all Member States, to prevent in-work poverty and to close the gender pay gap.

4. Social, Gender Equality and Cultural Impact Assessments

A crucial part of the governance structure is the increased use of social, gender equality, and cultural impact assessments at the national and EU level. At the EU level, this should include a greater role for such assessments in the integrated impact assessment that should be applied to the European Semester, and policies that impact on social inclusion and poverty.

5. New Ways of Measuring Progress

We call for the ’social scoreboard’ to have a stronger role in the functioning of the European Semester, including triggering binding preventive and corrective actions. Alternative indicators to gross domestic product (GDP) could be used to assess if progress is being made towards a more cohesive and inclusive society for all, focusing on social and cultural parameters of well-being.

The social open method of coordination can help identify key policy priorities in these areas and through the development of common indicators to monitor progress.

Women and men living in Europe should be encouraged to discuss, agree and advocate for their own policies and have the tools available to measure progress and hold governments to account.

6. Stakeholder Involvement

All involved partners should:

  • Provide guidance on true civil and social dialogue, in particular in the context of the National Reform Programmes and the mid-term review.
  • Ensure the democratic principle of civil dialogue through the meaningful and structured involvement of stakeholders in European governance and the European Semester process, in particular in line with Recital 16 of the Europe 2020 Guidelines of 2010.
  • Set clear and transparent procedures that allow for structural and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders in developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating policies under the Europe 2020 strategy.
  • Expand your sources for information when developing the Annual Growth Surveys and Country Specific Recommendations as well as the preparatory Staff Working Papers (SWPs).
  • Involve all relevant stakeholders in the development of a genuine Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and in particular in the development of its social dimension, when it is linked to the European Semester process.

Contribution of the Liaison Group to the Europe 2020 mid-term review (full report)

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Last modified on June 19 2014.