Brussels, 5 March 2009
Coordinated EU approach can mitigate social
impact of the crisis
Social policies can help mitigate the impact of the
economic crisis on the most vulnerable in Europe and on the economy as a whole,
while paving the way for recovery. The 2009 'Joint Report on Social Protection
and Social Inclusion', to be discussed by Employment Ministers on 9 March,
focuses on the contribution of social policies in responding to the crisis, and
on Member States' renewed strategies for delivering on shared EU social
objectives. The report will contribute to the Spring European Council on 19-20
"Solidarity is a shared European value and we need to take coordinated action
to respond effectively to the social impacts of the crisis. The twin aims must
be to prevent exclusion and to protect the most vulnerable. The reforms already
carried out as part of our Growth and Jobs Strategy are the best foundation for
our actions now," said Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for
Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. "In the short term, it is
vital to safeguard household income, promote job retention and prevent long-term
unemployment. At the same time, we must continue to act to make our social
models sustainable in the long term."
This year's report looks at the role of social policies in an economic
downturn. It also assesses the renewed national strategies which Member States
presented in autumn 2008 as part of the Open Method of Coordination in the field
of social policies. The report highlights the following areas on which to focus
- EU coordination of social policies can cushion the impact of the economic
crisis and help recovery, by continuing long-term reforms balanced with
short-term measures aimed at preventing job losses and sustaining household
- The European Social Fund should be used to its full potential in a
flexible and timely way to alleviate the social impacts of the crisis, by
supporting rapid labour market re-entry for the unemployed and focussing on the
- Comprehensive strategies for 'active inclusion' – that combine
and balance measures aimed at inclusive labour markets, access to quality
services and adequate minimum income – need to be implemented.
- Continued efforts are needed to reach the Lisbon target of a 50%
employment rate for older workers to ensure long term adequacy and
sustainability of pension systems.
- Member States need to step up their efforts to improve value for money in
the provision of healthcare and to reduce health inequalities, notably
through increased attention to primary care, prevention, health promotion,
better coordination and rational use of resources.
- Member States should continue to strive to establish and strengthen systems
for quality long-term care, by creating a solid financing basis,
improving care coordination and ensuring sufficient human resources as well as
support for informal carers.
- Strong commitment is needed to succeed in decisively reducing poverty.
The 2010 European Year for combating poverty and social exclusion will
reaffirm this goal. Evidence-based target-setting at national level,
strengthened quality and continuity of stakeholder involvement and better
mainstreaming of social considerations can boost delivery. Sustained efforts to
tackle child poverty, as well as the severe exclusion suffered by the most
vulnerable groups including by homeless people and the Roma community are
The Joint Report is accompanied by a set of 27 country
profiles assessing the social situation and strategies for each Member State and
by a Commission services working document which provides a more detailed
thematic account of challenges and policy responses.
The common objectives, assessment and reporting
for social protection and social inclusion – the 'Social open method of
coordination' – operates in parallel with the strategy for growth and
jobs. The 2009 Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion will be
presented to EU leaders together with the Joint Report on Employment and will
feed into the conclusions of the Spring European Council on 19-20 March.
See also MEMO/09/96
2009 Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion, supporting
document and country profiles: