In this podcast, social affairs commentator Dr Robin Wilson discusses rights protection and the future survival of Europe’s welfare systems.
Wilson outlines the principles which separate welfare provision in Norway and Sweden from its counterparts in Britain and Ireland and examines whether the more generous Scanadinavian model could be applied elsewhere in the Council of Europe region.
He discusses the sustainability of the Nordic system and the impact of the debt crisis and austerity in the so-called P.I.I.G.S countries – Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.
The Northern Ireland-based policy analyst (photo) also gives his views on how Europe’s welfare systems can meet the challenges of “anti-welfarism,” multi-ethnic societies and the prospect of smaller tax bases due to ageing populations.
Wilson affirms his belief that the welfare state remains the cornerstone of social cohesion across Europe.
“The welfare state is an expression of the idea that everyone is not only a citizen of the society in which they live but also has fellow citizens,” he says. “They are all fundamentally citizens of the same society.
“Welfare systems are under pressure to various degrees across Europe. What we have discovered is that the welfare regimes which are least vulnerable are those in the Nordic countries.
“The reason why they have proved the most robust is because they are able to secure the buy-in of professional and middle class strata. There is no incentive for them to go private and there is not the same prejudice against welfare claimants.”
On 11 October, Council of Europe ministers responsible for social cohesion will gather in Istanbul, Turkey for a two-day conference on the theme of ‘Building A secure Future For All.’
According to the conference briefing document, ministers will discuss ways of “protecting and empowering” the vulnerable and “achieving social sustainability through intergenerational solidarity.”
The conference will also review “the implementation of the Council of Europe’s ‘New Strategy and Action plan for Social Cohesion.’
Information: Council of Europe ‘New Strategy and Action Plan for Social Cohesion’ (2010)
Website: Istanbul Ministerial Conference
Information: Social Cohesion Research and Early Warning
Information: European Social Charter
Website: Dr Robin Wilson