Social investment - the key to growth, jobs and social justice in the EU, especially (but not only) in the countries hardest-hit by the economic crisis
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the recent "paradigm shift" proposed by the Commission with its proposal of a social investment package. The shift consists of no longer regarding social investment purely as a cost, but rather as an investment in the future. This approach would reduce pressure on public finances, would be comprehensive and would complement EU fiscal union.
Well-planned, effective and efficient social investment in the welfare state not only brings social progress, but is also worthwhile in economic terms. The EESC strongly agrees that, particularly in times of crisis, the consistent and successful implementation of a broad-based social investment package is absolutely essential to counter the rising poverty in Europe.
Wolfgang Greif, rapporteur for the EESC opinion on "The impact of social investment on employment and public budgets", highlighted the need for a proper macro-economic framework to enhance the potential of social investment and to develop suitable tools to measure its positive economic and non-economic effects. Mr Greif concluded that "the Commission should put forward a far more ambitious and long-term roadmap, running until at least 2020, to implement the social investment package and to quantify its positive effects on all sectors".
Failure to invest in the social sphere comes at a cost, and the long-term cost of inaction is actually much higher. In this opinion, the EESC showcases a number of examples of social investment. However, without secure financing raised through public and private investment alike, this project will not succeed.
Although social investment entails short-term costs, in the medium to long term it brings gains for society in terms of welfare and also generates savings. The benefits of social investment for employment and for national budgets are indisputable, but this approach also requires abandoning the one-sided austerity principle.
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The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 353 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.