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The social reality of Europe

  • Date(s)
    5 March 2007
  • Time
    4:00 p.m.
  • Location
    Social Market Foundation Board Room, Westminster

On 5 March Policy Network hosted an informal roundtable discussion with Roger Liddle, policy adviser to the President of the European Commission. He spoke about the Bureau of European Policy Advisers’ (BEPA) paper, which he has authored, “The Social Reality of Europe”. This paper, published by the European Commission, is currently available for download on the Policy Network website. 

Roger Liddle has also authored an exclusive article for the Policy Network website which places the issues raised in the BEPA paper in a more explicitly political context.

Over the last eighteen months, Policy Network has focused its energies on research around the European Social Model, and its ability to adapt to the challenges facing 21st century Europe. Along with Tony Giddens and Patrick Diamond, Roger Liddle has been one of those driving forward the European Social Model research programme, and contributed several articles and publications.

His BEPA paper on “The Social Reality of Europe” can be seen as the first step in launching an official Commission consultation “taking stock of the social situation in the European Union”. In acknowledging the diversity of Europe, the paper does not draw specific policy conclusions, but rather recognises that the challenges facing our societies are sufficiently common to make it worthwhile to embark on a Europe-wide debate about them.

This paper examines first the main drivers behind the social transformations in European societies in the past generation. While globalisation may accentuate some of the key trends shaping Europe’s future, the paper argues that most of these changes have been internally driven.

The roundtable discussion of around 40 high-level experts and policy-makers discussed the extent of these challenges and the main obstacles to European well-being today. The discussion also explored how policy and institutional arrangements, at a Member State and EU-level, can be reformed to meet the challenges raised in this paper.

The session began with an introduction by the paper’s author, Roger Liddle, European policy adviser to Tony Blair from 1997 to 2004 and a recognised expert on European affairs. He was followed by Dr Anne Corbett, from the LSE European Institute, and David Coats, from the Work Foundation, who responded to the points raised in the paper and opened it up for broader discussion. The discussion concluded at 18h00, and was followed by a reception.

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