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Global Europe, social Europe symposium

  • Date(s)
    5 December 2006
  • Location

On 5th December over 100 experts and policy-makers met in Brussels to discuss the future of the European Social Model at the ‘Global Europe Social Europe’ symposium organized by Policy Network, in partnership with the European Policy Centre. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, delivered the keynote address on “the new social reality of Europe”.
This major event was the latest in a series of activities, events and discussions organized by Policy Network as part of its flagship research project on the European Social Model (ESM). The ESM project has engaged progressive politicians, policy-makers and experts in a genuine debate about the future of Europe.

The ‘Global Europe, Social Europe’ symposium was opened by the Leader of the Danish Social Democratic Party, Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Mr Barroso followed with the keynote address, congratulating Policy Network contributors for having promoted vigorous debate around reform of the European Social Model.

Discussion was also promoted by the publication of a joint statement, signed by influential thinkers and experts, urging reform of the ESM to meet the future economic needs of Europe in an era of globalization.

The need for a progressive social agenda to regain public support for the European project was taken up as a common theme for the symposium. Important to this agenda was a commitment to labour market reform modelled on the system of ‘flexicurity’ operating in Nordic countries, and a ‘positive’ approach to welfare that shifted emphasis from benefits to incentives.

A central message in the discussions was that economic reform and social protection were mutually supportive, and that Europe needs to draw on its strengths in order to meet the challenges presented by globalization and demographic trends.

The symposium was structured around two major plenary sessions: The Social Challenges of Today: Welfare, Inequality and Cultural Diversity and Is the Single Market the Enemy of Social Justice?.

Discussion was stimulated by contributions from Werner Perger (Die Zeit), Anthony Giddens (former Director of LSE), Jane Jenson (Professor at the University of Montreal), Patrick Weil (Senior Research Fellow at French National Center for Scientific Research), Vladimir Spidla (EU Commissioner for Employment), Allan Larsson (former Director-General of the EU Directorate for Employment and Social Affairs), Patrick Diamond (Director of Policy Network), Anton Hemerijck (Director of the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy), Hans Martens (Chief Executive of the European Policy Centre), Jean Pisani-Ferry (Director of BRUEGEL), Grete Faremo (Director of Law and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft), and John Monks (General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation).

The symposium was concluded with comments from the EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, who emphasised his support for a global Europe. Europe, he stressed, can play a key role in responding to the challenges of the 21st century in a wide range of areas, including trade, energy, and climate change and in developing essential relations with emerging economic powers. He insisted that the Commission must take the lead in this debate, putting social justice issues squarely on the EU agenda.

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