Five Steps To Make Europe More Social
Don’t talk about a European welfare state. Instead, a German politician suggests, we should think of EU minimum standards also in the social field.
The politician, Angelica Schwall-Düren, has just retired from a post as minister for Federal and European Affairs in Nordrhein-Westfalen, in the SPD-Green government of Hannelore Kraft.
She has now presented her points of view in a short, practical article in the London-based Social Europe web magazine.
The core idea of a social Europe “cannot be to replace national systems with a European welfare state”, she says. Instead “we must reconcile EU minimum standards with respect for Member States’ capacities in social policy”.
Her five points are, in abbreviated form:
1. Harmonise taxation across the EU in order to stop to the ruinous downward spiral towards the lowest taxes. And introduce a financial transaction tax in order to stop high-frequency trading. Revenue generated should add resources to local, regional and national governments to be spent on education and infrastructure.
2. Launch an EU investment plan to further growth and jobs - in crisis-hit countries in particular but also for the benefit of Europe as a whole.
3. Address youth unemployment effectively. Make use of the EU Youth Guarantee and make sure that all young people under the age of 25 receive a high-quality, concrete offer (a job, apprenticeship/traineeship, work experience or continued education) within 4 months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.
4. Introduce a permanent quota system for refugees and set up a European agency in charge of all asylum procedures, maintaining a number of EU reception centres and supervising Member States’ compliance with minimum standards.
5. Introduce a European unemployment insurance scheme. We need a mechanism of automatic stabilisers for the European economy as a whole. This would buffer Europe against shocks and help to re-establish growth, focusing on solidarity rather than just on saving banks.
Read the full text in the Social Europe web magazine.