EU Commission: which social protection in developing countries?
How will EU funds be used to ensure social protection whilst promoting international development? What will be the priorities? Which vulnerable brackets will benefit from the dedicated measures? The European Commission has sought to respond to these and other questions with the Communication on “Social Protection in European Union development cooperation”, addressed to European Parliament, Council, Economic and Social Committee as well as to the Committee of the Regions.
How and where direct EU aids? The Communication seeks to outlines how future EU aid should work to help putting in place social protection policies and systems, and create new jobs, not only in developing countries. Despite the recent growth in the world’s economy, the lack of social protection still represents a strong obstacle to the long-term and sustainable development of middle and low income countries, an issue marked by insufficient public awareness. Too often - states the Commission - the most vulnerable members of society (women, children, the disabled, the elderly, etc.) are left behind the creation of wealth. Furthermore, the document states: “globalization has more widely been associated with increased vulnerability, disruption of traditional solidarity systems and, in some cases, increased social polarisation”. Increased numbers of casual, informal and migrant workers have no access to employment-related social insurance or any real form of social protection. This contradicts the Millennium Development Goals - MDG - target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. As a result a large number of families in Africa, Asia and Latin America are just above the extreme poverty line.
For inclusive growth. Where poverty persists, it is increasingly associated with exclusion and marginalisation as a result of specific factors such as geographical isolation, disability, gender or ethnicity. In lower income countries in particular, ill health and disease, inadequate nutrition, especially for children, lack of adequate skills, particularly for young people, scarcity of resources and repeated exposure to severe livelihood shocks prevent millions of poor people from participating effectively in the labour market. Not to mention the fact that - the Executive points out - global food, fuel and financial crises have exacerbated these impacts on the livelihood and employment quality and security of the poor. Only through comprehensive social protection will it be possible to support poverty reduction and inclusive growth, as well as social cohesion and stability”, states the Commission’s Communication. However, the very different profiles of developing economies and the high levels of informality in their labour markets present a very different setting from that in which most of the existing social protection systems in the developed world were established, calling for innovative and tailormade solutions based on country-specific needs and priorities”.
Centrality of cooperation and good practices. In the document the Commission underlines the crucial role of cooperation. Establishing an appropriate legal and institutional framework is a key challenge for the provision of effective and efficient social protection coverage, thus the EU is called to promote dialogue and the exchange of best practices with Developing Countries with concrete proposals. The document identifies the tools for the development of domestic policies along with job-creating measures whilst promoting employment in the public and private sectors. The survey equally focuses on equal opportunities, since still today women “face gender inequalities leading to impediments in access to work”.
Political decisions, appropriate funding. The proposals were advanced ensuing an overarching consultation process with the participation of over 250 stakeholders and 17 member states, due to be at the centre of European debates tabled for the following months. According to the Commissioners’ College the EU will play a key role in this field. The EU should thus “ensure consistency between policies for supporting social protection in development cooperation and all other relevant EU policies”, with appropriate financial coverage. Equity, social inclusion and social cohesion are the countersigns of the future activity of the EU inside and outside of its borders.