EU presidency: Belgium wants to measure impact of social investment on competitiveness

Far from being a cost factor, a well-organised social policy can boost productivity and economic growth. With this message, the Belgian presidency of the European Union convened a joint meeting of European finance and social affairs ministers on Tuesday.

"We see that our productivity growth has stagnated over the last decade and that the productivity gap with the United States is widening. It is, therefore, important that we also focus on these social investments and reforms to close this gap," said Finance minister Vincent Van Peteghem, of Flemish Christian democrats CD&V.

"I think we all agree that we should approach economic and social policy from an integrated perspective"

Investment in childcare and education, in the skills and mental well-being of workers. According to minister of Social Affairs Frank Vandenbroucke, of Flemish socialists Vooruit, the discussion provided numerous examples of how "well-organised" social policies deliver economic returns. "I think we all agree that we should approach economic and social policy from an integrated perspective," he said.

Technical working groups

EU technical working groups will now examine how to measure the impact of social policies on productivity, economic growth and the sustainability of public finances. This work could then lead to guidelines to help member states assess the wider impact of their social investments.

Strengthening Europe's competitiveness will be a key task for the next European Commission, which will take office after the elections on 6-9 June. It can count on the input of Mario Draghi, the former president of the European Central Bank, who will present a long-awaited report on European competitiveness in June.



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