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Meetings Calendar 2006
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Presidency Conclusions on the social dimension of the revised Lisbon strategy

 

The discussions about the social dimension of the new Lisbon strategy for growth and employment were based on the Commission Communication on a new framework for the open method of coordination of social protection and inclusion policies in the European Union and a discussion paper of the Presidency.

The Ministers agreed that the social dimension in the framework of the revised Lisbon strategy should be strengthened by streamlining open coordination. The streamlined open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies should be integrated better with the revised Lisbon strategy both at national and European level to ensure that economic, employment and social policies will have reciprocally beneficial effects and that social protection is regarded as a productive factor. Adjustment to the 3-year cycle of the new Lisbon strategy has been advocated.

The streamlined social protection and social inclusion process may support the Member States in modernising and further developing their national social protection systems. The participants in the informal meeting agreed that improved exchange of information and opportunities for mutual learning were of crucial importance in this connection, also with a view to promoting national reform processes. The identification of common challenges on the basis of the objectives defined and an intensive exchange about possible approaches to solutions may provide an adequate framework for national reform efforts. In this context, more attention could be focused on the implementation of the National Action Plans. In the process of streamlined open coordination high priority should not only be attached to good governance but also to transparency and involvement of stakeholders.

The participants in the informal meeting agreed that the visibility of the streamlined process in the social field should be enhanced. It should become easier for the citizens to recognise and experience that social protection, social cohesion and social inclusion are top priorities at EU level. To enhance visibility and to make the process more easily noticeable, the meeting advocated that the ministers for social affairs should deliver a clear message to the Spring European Council. This message should emphasise the mutual strengthening of economic, employment and social policies and highlight the contribution made by the streamlined open coordination of social protection and social inclusion policies. In this context it seems appropriate to recall the commitment of the Lisbon European Council to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty, in particular child poverty. With regard to the future development of pensions, the commitment to adequacy, sustainability and the modernisation of pension systems should be reaffirmed. The challenges in the field of healthcare and long-term care, which will be of even greater significance in the future due to the demographic development, should also be stressed. The ministers underlined that the streamlined open coordination in the areas of social inclusion, pensions as well as health and long-term care may contribute to growth and employment and that policies promoting growth and employment may in turn contribute to advancing social protection and social cohesion at European and national level.

 

 

Date: 17.02.2006