The world of work is changing rapidly, with new opportunities and new challenges arising from globalisation, the digital revolution, changing work patterns and demographic developments.
At the same time, the economic crisis has left deep marks in our societies, from long-term unemployment to high levels of public and private debt in many parts of Europe. Thanks to determined action at many levels, the EU economy is now back on a more stable footing. However, significant social inequalities remain, with people questioning whether innovation, technology shifts and the benefits and burdens accompanying open markets and societies are evenly distributed in society. Men and women across Europe are concerned about the future and how it will affect their daily lives and the lives of their children.
Ability to shape the future
These developments have fuelled doubts about the EU’s social market economy and its ability to deliver on its promise to leave no one behind and to ensure that every generation is better off than the previous one. Trust in governments has also been eroded. While there is a wealth of good practice in Europe, shaping the future and delivering fair and prosperous societies through political dialogue and cooperation will be no less demanding in the years ahead.
The future of Europe
The debate on the future of Europe and the need for the EU and its Member States to better meet citizens’ expectations and deliver for all Europeans is at the heart of the EU agenda.
Following the Bratislava meeting on 16 September 2016 and the Valletta meeting on 3 February 2017, the declaration adopted by EU leaders at the Rome meeting on 25 March 2017 pledged that: “In the ten years to come, we want a Union that is safe and secure, prosperous, competitive, sustainable and socially responsible, and with the will and capacity of playing a key role in the world and of shaping globalisation. We want a Union where citizens have new opportunities for cultural and social development and economic growth.”
The European Commission presented its contribution to the debate on 1 March 2017 with a White Paper on the future of Europe, followed by a reflection paper on the social dimension of Europe on 26 April 2017. Several proposals have been put forward in this field in recent years.
The Swedish Government is actively engaged in the discussion on the future of Europe and since the start of its mandate has put fair working conditions, inclusive growth, equal opportunities and a well-functioning social dialogue high on its political agenda.
A key moment
Prime Minister Löfven said: “Working for a more prosperous Europe, where the benefits of growth and globalisation reach all citizens, should be a priority for us all. The Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth will be a key moment to discuss how our societies can improve and be ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow.”
President Juncker said: “Since the start of my mandate, as from the start of my political career, I have made clear that I wanted a more social Europe. We have taken important steps in recent years to achieve that. The Social Summit will help us to deliver on this momentum and put social priorities where they belong: at the top of Europe’s agenda.”