Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Opinion

How about a social troika?

  • A social Troika could advise on how best to create sustainable jobs (Photo: wfabry)

Picture the scene: Troika members go to a member state and are greeted with enthusiasm.

The Troika is welcomed with open arms, not dreaded. It is a 'social Troika' there to encourage, not discourage. This Troika works within wider social parameters, not just a fiscal framework of austerity, budget cuts and lay-offs.

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The presentation by Social Affairs Commissioner Laszlo Andor on Wednesday (2 October) has given cause for a feeling of hope - even it is just a small feeling.

The commission has decided the time is finally right to integrate a social dimension into the Economic and Monetary Union. New social indicators on unemployment, poverty and inequalities, shall be linked to the current economic indicators allowing member states to be better alerted to the dangers ahead in facing employment and social challenges.

Only time will tell if these indicators will be more than just another exercise of monitoring and benchmarking at EU level or if it will it create a genuine social dimension to rebalance the Economic and Monetary Union.

Yet, just as EMU is going further and deeper, the social dimension needs to match this pace.

It must be developed far beyond what is currently being proposed. Otherwise, it is clear it will always be too many steps behind to have the genuine and credible impact it must have.

On being asked if he was disappointed for a lack of ambition in the proposals, the commissioner answered that this is just the start of a new phase.

We all need to look at how we are going to support this social ambition which is emerging from within the commission.

Some member states are undergoing financial assistance programmes which has seen a Troika comprised of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund giving strict instructions on cuts and restructuring.

Just as these member states are experiencing economic crises, they are also facing social crises. This now risks doing long-lasting damage to all sections of society.

A Social Troika, composed of the Commission, the European Parliament and the European Investment Bank for example, could offer instructions and resources for areas of investment. It could offer guidance on how to create, and not cut, sustainable jobs - jobs which ensure social protection and an escape from poverty.

Who knows, with a genuine fiscal capacity, it might offer investment funds, sizeable enough to make a real difference.

Let's not forget: the social dimension is likely to be foremost in the minds of EU citizens - the same citizens who are due to vote in next year's European elections.

The writer is secretary general of the European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions

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