The development of social welfare benefits

EESC opinion: The development of social welfare benefits

Key points

Social welfare is an important tool for redistribution, social cohesion and solidarity which has to be at the heart of the construction of the European project. If social and labour market policies are conceived in an appropriate manner, they help to promote both social justice and economic efficiency and productivity.

Because of the current economic and social crisis there is a need more than ever for an ambitious European strategy for the years leading up to 2020 covering four fields: knowledge and innovation, a more sustainable economy, the improvement of employment levels, and social inclusion.

The EESC welcomes the fact that the Europe 2020 Strategy includes a guideline specifically dedicated to social inclusion and fighting poverty.

The best way to escape from exclusion is to get a sustainable, quality and properly paid job.

The EESC considers that active inclusion must not replace social inclusion.

The EESC points out that it recommended the introduction "of a minimum social income, both to act as a safety net for the poor and to boost their reintegration into society".

The EESC stresses that not all social benefits are the subject at present of particular attention under the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) relating to social protection.

The modernisation of our social protection systems involves striking an efficient balance between, on the one hand, incentives designed to increase the labour supply and, on the other hand, measures intended to ensure adequate social protection by guaranteeing the effectiveness of expenditure in this area.

The representatives of civil society and the social partners can play an essential role in all matters related to the modernisation of social protection systems and the strengthening of the OMC as a democratic process.