Documents such as the Treaty establishing the European Community and the European Union (EU) Charter of Fundamental Rights set out fundamental social objectives, such as the promotion of employment and social protection, and include principles such as freedom, equality, and solidarity, and the right to fair and just working conditions, as well as social security and social assistance and equality between men and women. The Treaty of the EU established the European Employment Strategy (EES), which aims to create more and better jobs in the EU and constitutes a part of the Europe 2020 growth strategy. The EU’s role in social policy is such that the EU should provide a framework that reconciles openness and mobility with domestic social cohesion, supports national welfare states on a systemic level in select key functions, and guides the substantive development of national welfare states by indicating general social standards and objectives and organizing mutual learning processes, while leaving the ways and means to the Member States.
The EU founding fathers assumed that supranational economic cooperation could be a tool for establishing cohesion both between and within countries. However, as traditional frameworks are not fit for managing the current challenges, the EU needs to create a virtuous circle where both pan-European and national cohesion are enhanced, and needs to support both convergence towards higher levels of prosperity and well-being across the member states and convergence towards more equality within the member states. The European Social Model was the first step towards realizing these goals and was a tool to cope with globalization and the economic reforms made at the expense of workers’ rights. The model of a Social Europe entails the achievement of employability, the improvement of education, the fight against poverty and social exclusion, new family policies, the achievement of gender equality, and active ageing. Now, social harmonization is the next step.
Moreover, this concept is perceived differently among European countries and the possibility of significant discrepancies between EU and national priorities in the adoption of common guidelines exists. Therefore, the aim of this project is to raise awareness of society about the concept and concrete manifestations of social harmonization, and its impact on the labor market outcomes of the elderly in Europe.
In particular, the project aims at increasing knowledge on the issue of social harmonization and building cross-border co-operation around the topic in Central and Eastern European countries as well as Baltic States- countries which experience common difficulties on their labor markets (rapid population ageing, or brain drain of young people). In order to reach the objectives, the following methods are used:
- Econometric analyses of how the specific combinations of social harmonization affect the labor market participation of the elderly and the working population;
- Organization of national debates through Social Harmonization Forums in the countries of the project’s partners. Their aim is to stimulate the discussion on the issue, raise awareness of individuals, strengthen collaboration between stakeholders on both national and regional levels and bring civic engagement in the debate.
CASE publications within the project:
- K. Mirecka, I. Styczyńska, Social harmonization and labor market performance in Europe
- K. Beaumont, K. Mirecka, I. Styczyńska, Social harmonization in the eyes of Polish stakeholders – in search of consensus
- S. Naŭrodski, Pension reform in Belarus in the shadow of Social Europe: vulnerability issues of people aged 50+ and points for improvement
- Nordic Council of Ministers´ Support Program for Non-Governmental Organisations in the Baltic Sea Region 2015
- BICEPS — The Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies
- The International Educational NGO ACT