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2005-09-30

Spidla on the social model, values, and safety nets 

From an interview with EU-employment commissioner Vladimír Spidla in Der Standard [DE]:
Standard: On Thursday there will be an EU-debate of social policy stakeholders. Is there a European social model at all?

Spidla: There is a common bundle of values. One can see common traits in all EU-member states. Belgium spends 27.5% of GDP for social security and the health system, the UK 27.2%. The differences are not as big as we believe.

...

Standard: If everyone in the EU is in agreement then, why will there be a meeting of heads of governement at the end of October, where the social model will be discussed?

Spidla: No, there is no harmony in the sense of harmonisation. There is a bundle of common values. But the world is in movement. If we want to safeguard these values, we have to act. Maintaining the status quo is suicide. This is very dangerous for our social concept. My opinion is: keep the values, change the structures. We will not stay competitive by throwing the values overboard. Also simple decreases of wages will not make us competitive.

Standard: Which changes concretely are necessary?

Spidla: The Lisbon-strategy already specifies that we want a qualitative competitiveness: more and better jobs. But innovation without a safety net is impossible. One cannot paint well under the whip, or create software. We need the completion of the internal market – free work migration and the service directive. At the same time it must be clear: Internal market yes, but no social dumping. There are no more islands in Europe. There also must not be an internal division in the EU after the enlargement round.
Good, to-the-point answers.


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