The European social model – can we still afford it in the globalized world?

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To remain socially successful we need economic success. To keep the European social model sustainable, we have to improve its efficiency and increase Europe's productivity. These were the takeaways of the discussion The European social model – can we still afford it in the globalized 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 but at least 40 % of global public spending in social protection – reminded Jacek Krawczyk, President of the EESC's Employers' Group. Yet the feeling of exclusion among European citizens is growing, as is populism – he said.

The participants agreed that a proper balance between economic and social policies was needed but disagreed on the right proportions. For BusinessEurope's Markus Beyrer, boosting competitiveness remains a priority. In his view, the strength of the European social model comes from the variety of national solutions and this approach should be maintained.

Economic, social and environmental rights must be placed on an equal footing. Social rights are among human rights – underlined OSCE's Katarzyna Gardaphadze.

Maciej Witucki, President of the Management Board of Polish company Work Service, reminded that to finance social systems we needed taxes from companies and workers and to provide jobs we needed to educate people properly.

The European social model is not a cost, it is an investment. There is a need for a true social dialogue to dispel distrust between workers, employers and the state – emphasized Dorota Gardias of the Polish Trade Unions Forum.

Hans-Peter Klös from the Cologne Institute of Economic Research pointed out that without an increase of Europe's productivity it will be difficult to keep the European social model.

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