SOLIDAR will closely examine the European Semester package consisting of the Country Reports published today. After a first look, SOLIDAR is glad to see a more “socialised” set of country reports, but they remain much focused on growth, employment and employment-related social protection. To solve the problem of ever more diverging societies, high rates of inequality and poverty, we need social (protection) policies that are not focused on conditionality or efficiency but on providing a decent safety net for everyone living in the EU, regardless of employment status or citizenship.
The decisive moment will be the publication of the country-specific recommendations in May where SOLIDAR hopes to see a balanced set of recommendations not only focusing on fiscal consolidation and balanced national budgets but also on urgently needed social investment in people, such as education, social services and health care. The European Semester is the important tool at EU level to push for a comprehensive implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights at national level.
Our own members-led monitoring exercise, Social Progress Watch, has been closely following developments in employment and social policies at Member States level in 16 countries and our members have developed recommendations as to how to improve implementation of policy reforms that ensure social cohesion and improve upward social convergence. Unfortunately, for the fourth year now, the majority of our members’ observations are still negative in the sense that the situation for many people has not been improving (enough) to ensure a decent life, decent working conditions and social cohesion among and within our societies.
The Social Progress Watch Report 2017 draws a direct comparison with the 2016 report in the areas of “Integration of third country nationals” and “Developments in social protection systems” and thereby illustrates clearly the continuous struggle of NGOs and civil society organisations to fill in the gaps where the state is neglecting or insufficiently fulfilling its duties, for example when it comes to ensuring peaceful intercultural coexistence or the fight against discrimination.
Please read the Report 2017 here http://www.solidar.org/en/publications/social-progress-watch-report-2017 and you can find the 16 country studies here http://www.solidar.org/en/publications/social-progress-watch-2017-16-country-studies