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Commission’s report on progress in modernising member states’ social protection systems

Eugene Eteris, RSU, BC, Riga, 27.04.2015.Print version
Experts from the European Social Policy Network published a report, which showed progress made by the some EU member states in implementing reforms toward the modernisation of the social protection systems. However, the states have to activate efforts across the EU in eradicating poverty and supporting people excluded from the labour market.

The Commission adopted the Social Investment Package in 2013, which urged the EU states to modernise their social protection systems with a view to emerging from the crisis stronger, more cohesive and more competitive. This means better performing active inclusion strategies and a more efficient and more effective use of social budgets.


The Commission encourages member states to adopt a comprehensive approach in their welfare systems through both the country’s specific recommendations (in the context of the European Semester) and the guidance provided in the Annual Growth Survey.


This should also contribute towards achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, especially the employment and poverty targets, and strengthen our economic foundations.

Commission’s opinion

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen welcomed the report and stated that it demonstrated the efforts made by many EU states in modernising their social protection systems towards greater social investment. The states have been stepping up their support for children in the schools, in removing barriers for parents to pursue their professional aspirations and recognise the importance of providing adequate support to people excluded from the labour market.


These reforms have led to certain benefits in terms of increased skill development, higher labour market participation, higher competitiveness and higher economic growth. However, the report also shows that there is room for further efforts by numerous EU member states. The Commission will therefore continue its support to the states' reforms, which could provide a solid background to greater social cohesion and upward social convergence, the Commissioner added.

Stepping up member states’ social activities

The Commission has decided to show how the EU member states have implemented reforms in their social protection systems with a view to further support states’ efforts to modernise their social systems.


Therefore, the Commission commissioned the European Social Policy Network of independent experts to assess the overall approach across Europe. The report concludes that member states, in general, have moved ahead in their reform efforts, but “more and quicker progress is possible and needed”.


The experts’ report shows that many EU states have well-established social investment approaches to their social welfare systems, which they have been maintaining and strengthening over the years. Other states are also undertaking policy reforms towards the direction of social investment, notably in terms of stepping up activating and enabling support for labour market reintegration, support for early childhood development and supporting parents' labour market participation. However the crisis and fiscal constraints have, at times, complicated some EU states' reform efforts.

Preventing poverty

The report also highlights that different social policies can often reinforce each other, and therefore it is important for reforms to consider such complementarities.


An example is highlighted in the report, showing that cash benefits like unemployment benefits and minimum income can be more effective in preventing poverty and helping people enter employment when they are joined up with measures that help people to develop their skills and employability and quality services such as childcare.


In addition to the recommendations provided through the European Semester, the EU also provides financial support for these policy reforms through the European Social Fund.

The report, for example, describes the use of the European Social Fund in supporting, stepping up early childhood education and care and providing services to help rehabilitate people with disabilities and support them to re-enter employment.


More information on the subject:

= DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion;

= Social Investment Synthesis Report;

= Website for the European Social Policy Network;

= Social Investment webpage;

= Social Investment Package

General reference:


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