ICSW Europe International Workshop - Tbilisi, Georgia 2015

Participants of the ICSW Europe international workshop “Social Protection Floors – Regional and International Experiences” in Tbilisi, Georgia, 30 October 2015, share the Social Platform position on social situation in Europe.

(N.B. Social Platform is the largest civil society alliance fighting for social justice and participatory democracy in Europe. Consisting of 48 pan-European networks of NGOs, we campaign to ensure that EU policies are developed in partnership with the people they affect, respecting fundamental rights, promoting solidarity and improving lives.)

In time of political crisis over migration and alarmingly high poverty, social exclusion and inequality, the claim that Europe is in economic recovery remains a myth for many people across Europe. Job creation alone is not enough, especially given the current in-work poverty epidemic and rising job insecurity.

Austerity-driven measures have led to discriminatory measures and decreasing social standards, as well as violations of fundamental rights.

Social policy must be recognised as an investment in human capital rather than a cost. Investment across the life cycle has measurable benefits – both socially and economically.

ICSW Europe remind importance of universally accessible social standards which would include:

  1. Adequate minimum income schemes of at least 60% of national median income to protect people against poverty across the life cycle, linked to reference budgets that capture real needs in relation to access to goods and services.
  2. Adequate minimum wage has to be set higher than adequate minimum income and with a minimum threshold of at least 60% of national median wage.
  3. Common standards for unemployment benefits set at a level above adequate minimum income. Wide coverage must be ensured to avoid the exclusion of people who have not yet worked or have only worked for a limited period.
  4. Rights-based and non-discriminatory access to quality, inclusive and affordable social, health, education and lifelong learning services, recognising that investment in such services also have a high potential for job creation.

We urge our governments to explore how its own financial instruments can support a more ambitious social agenda, whilst also speaking out against national budget cuts in the fields of social protection and services.

The adoption of the Social Protection Floors Recommendation (No. 202) by national tripartite delegations at the ILO Conference in 2012 was justified by the social situation, especially since the crisis. Not all European citizens benefit from the social protection floor. ICSW Europe stresses, that ILO member states have a commitment to keep the social protection floor defined nationally, with its content, level and funding depending on the authorities in each country.

Civil society organisations are in a unique position to connect policy-makers with the people and services their policies directly affect. Civil society organisations represent underused resource that can help deliver a more socially just Europe – a goal that is in our common interest. We look forward to sharing our expertise for common good and sustainable social development.

European national governments have to accept SPFs as new sustainable policy and not only as safety nets that redress the marginal imbalances of a mainstream market-based approach.

In Tbilisi, October 30, 2015

Workshop Presentations & Documents