By the EESC's Employers' Group

To remain successful socially, we need economic success. To ensure that the European social model continues to be sustainable, we have to improve its efficiency and increase Europe's productivity. These were the key conclusions of the discussion on The European social model – can we still afford it in a globalised world?, which took place in Sopot, Poland, on 27 September 2018.

The EU accounts for 7 % of the world's population, 20 % of global GDP and at least 40 % of global public spending on social protection, noted Jacek Krawczyk, President of the EESC's Employers' Group. Nevertheless, a feeling of exclusion continues to grow among European citizens, as does populism, he said.

The participants agreed that a proper balance between economic and social policies was needed, but there was disagreement about how this balance should be proportioned. For BusinessEurope's Markus Beyrer, boosting competitiveness remains a priority. In his view, the strength of the European social model is attributable to the variety of national solutions and this approach should be maintained.

Economic, social and environmental rights must all be placed on an equal footing. Social rights are also human rights, underlined Katarzyna Gardaphadze of the OSCE.

Maciej Witucki, president of the management board of Polish company Work Service, reminded attendees that in order to finance social systems we needed to tax companies and workers and that in order to provide jobs we needed to educate people properly.

The European social model should not be seen as a cost but as an investment. There is a need for true social dialogue to dispel distrust between workers, employers and the state, emphasised Dorota Gardias of the Polish Trade Unions Forum.

Hans-Peter Klös, from the Cologne Institute of Economic Research, pointed out that without increasing Europe's productivity it would be difficult to preserve the European social model.

The discussion took place at the European Forum for New Ideas, organised by the Polish Confederation Lewiatan. (jl)