Irish Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, welcomed the publication today by the European Commission of its ‘Social Investment Package’. The package sets out a framework for policy reforms to enhance social protection, invest in people’s skills and capabilities, and support people as required throughout their lives.
Minister Burton said:
“The publication of this communication by the Commission, and the strong personal commitment of Commissioner Andor, the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, marks an important part of the response to the fiscal and economic crisis.
“It highlights the role of social protection systems not only in protecting EU citizens against the worst effects of the crisis, but also in investing in their capacity to participate in the recovery. For too long we have heard people talk of austerity and recession – we need to shift the debate towards investing in our most valuable resource – our people.”
Minister Burton - Now is the time to move towards social investment policies in education, active labour markets and family assistance
The package also seeks to help build growth and cohesion in the EU beyond the current crisis. A key element of the package is the recommendation on ‘Investing in Children: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage’. This recognises that tackling childhood disadvantage early, before it becomes entrenched, is the best way to ensure that people live up to their full potential.
Minister Burton, who currently chairs the Employment and Social Affairs Council of Ministers on behalf of the Irish Presidency, looks forward to working with the Commission on how best to give practical effect to the principles and actions outlined in the communication.
The Minister said:
“Now that the Commission has launched the package, we have a duty to build better public understanding of and support for the social investment approach.
“Now is the time to move towards social investment policies in education, active labour markets and family assistance as spending on such growth-oriented strategies will help to build skills and increase the capacity for innovation, while supporting greater female participation in the labour market.
“Given Ireland’s relatively young population and lower dependency ratio there is likely to be very positive support for moving towards a social investment approach here. As such, we fully intend to show leadership to mobilise public support for a transition to a new European welfare state based on social investment.”
The Minister will lead the Member States’ response to the Communication at the formal EPSCO Council of Ministers meeting next June in Luxembourg.
The Minister is currently working with the Commission to organise a conference in Leuven, Belgium to be held during the Irish presidency on the subject of the Social Investment Package, and particularly on how it can be implemented in practice.
Arrangements for this conference are being agreed with the Commission and will be announced at a later date.
Read European Commission communication and related documents about the Social Investment Package.