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The new social realities and the reform of the European social model

  • Date(s)
    22 June 2007
  • Time
  • Location
    Lisbon, Portugal

As Portugal prepares to take over the EU presidency, Policy Network, the Partido Socialista and Novas Fronteiras organised a joint symposium in Lisbon to shift the debate about the future of the European Social Model to the forefront of European policy-making.

The event, entitled The New Social Realities and the Reform of the European Social Model, aimed to bring the agenda back to the Lisbon process, to reinvigorate and strengthen the original commitments made to progressive centre-left reform.

The symposium brought together around 30 senior politicians, advisers and experts, including Anthony Giddens, former Director of the London School of Economics; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Leader of the Danish Social Democrats; David Coats, Associate Director at the Work Foundation; and John Williams, Special Adviser to the UK's Work and Pensions Secretary, The Rt Hon John Hutton MP, among others (see the attached Participant list for further details of attendees). The symposium was followed by a public seminar, discussing the new social realities with a larger audience.


At the heart of our endeavour is to open a debate about some of the key factors that contribute to well-being in Europe, such as economic opportunity, the changing nature of work, the challenges of the ageing society, demography and new patterns of family life, poverty and inequality, and social mobility among others.

Understanding the social transformations in European societies is, of course, a precondition for building a new consensus on the common social challenges facing Europeans.

Ahead of the event in Lisbon, Policy Network published a statement, entitled Social Lisbon: A New Agenda for Europe, calling on the leaders of the EU’s 27 member states to commit to a series of Common Social Objectives and Binding Social Targets, as part of a new commitment to Social Europe.

The statement and event builds on the work Policy Network has been conducting on reform of the European Social Model since 2005. In December 2006, Policy Network published a statement entitled Global Europe, Social Europe, which brings together the major points of Policy Network’s debate on the future of the European Social Model and outlines a template for reform. More recently, Policy Network has published a Pro-Europe Declaration, aimed at building the political case for an effective engagement by the UK with the EU reform agenda.

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