Two Sides of the Same Coin: Fiscal and Social Policy Do Need Incorporated Consideration!

One April weekend a 2-day-long workshop took place in the FES Office in Warsaw. Practitioners and academics from CEE countries and Germany discussed a future framework for a united Europe. Basic concerns focused on the co-dependency of fiscal and social policy, as it seems that austerity policies not only fail to combat the on-going financial crisis, but foster growing inequalities instead.

Here a short summary: during the first day we developed visions of the desirable future of Europe to indicate main focal points for further deliberation. Two thematic groups emerged, one focused on social and the other on fiscal policy. The Social policy group advocated common minimum standards in the European community, as well as more social investments, whereas the fiscal group focused on the capacity of the EU to prevent asymmetric shocks and ease the aftermaths of the economic crisis. The wide variety of issues discussed came down to calls for more convergence, cohesion and solidarity within European Union. Day 2 followed with action planning. The development of a European social policy was challenged to implementing more hard law (regulations and directives) instead of soft one (strategies, recommendations) and fighting regional inequalities in living and working standards. In terms of fiscal policy, the urge to avoid financial leakages was emphasized, as well as need for reshaping the redistribution of European wealth. Both groups agreed that more public, social and human investments must be undertaken.

I conclude: We have our vision of future Europe, however there is a long way to go. Last EP elections proved to be most successful for the Eurosceptics. The persistent financial crisis has taken its toll. However, countries that suffered most (Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal) made progressive or at least centre-left choices. This tells us to act now, otherwise the EU will end up at risk. Having said that, I strongly encourage my Future Lab colleagues as well as the readers of this blog to share not only their opinions and views, but also to follow up with ideas on how to develop ways out of both the economic and political crisis. We can do it!

Fotocredit: Ester Herberts CC BY-ND 2.0

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