Publications

Social Investment first! A precondition for a modern Social Europe

3 March 2017
Claire Dhéret (Senior Policy Analyst and FutureLab Europe Programme Leader) and Lieve Fransen (Senior Adviser to EPC on health, social and migration policies)



The EU is in desperate need of a new project. Something that can generate new momentum, regain citizens’ trust and change the EU’s tainted image of austerity and gridlock to one of progress and positive change. In this Issue Paper, Claire Dhéret and Lieve Fransen present us with their own vision for the future; they advocate a push towards a strong, modern and sustainable Social Europe and argue that the best way to achieve this and address Europe’s current challenges is to put social investment at the heart of the EU policy agenda. Beginning with a thorough analysis of the European welfare states’ growing weaknesses, the authors delve deeper into the concept of social investment and explain how it can address the growing socio-economic divergences between and within the member states, and provide social protection for all EU citizens in a sustainable way. Because it will require a radical change of mindset concerning the scope of social policies, the way in which they are delivered, and the role the Union has in this area, some might think that such an ambitious push forward will further embolden Eurosceptic forces. But not so according to our authors: they argue that too much time has already been wasted, and that the absence of a coherent social policy framework at EU level partly explains the economic, social and political crises the Union is facing at the moment. If the EU is to convince its citizens that it has their best interest at heart and that it can improve their well-being and quality of life, it will have to reinforce its social dimension with a robust strategy on social investment, as recommended by the authors, and fulfil its potential of becoming a driver of social progress for all.

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