Innovations in social policy
Despite all efforts taken to mitigate the impacts of the economic crisis slow economic growth, stable but relatively high unemployment, persistently high numbers of young unemployed people and increasing long-term unemployment are still observed in EU-28. In addition to these phenomena multiplying risks arising from poverty and social exclusion new problems emerge, such as in-work poverty and a high proportion of young people (15-24) who are “not in employment, education or training” (NEET). Changes in economies differently influence different segments of populations, increasing inequalities in the societies of many countries. It has been observed that the at-risk-of-poverty and social exclusion rate has risen in the EU despite all emphasis laid on cohesion policy. These and other challenges indicate that social policy in Europe needs improvements towards greater effectiveness. Determined efforts must be taken to make labour markets more efficient. Innovative solutions in support of job creation are necessary, as well as education and training as investments in human capital boosting the productivity of economies. The social protection systems in place have fallen short of their goals, so they must be improved to better target people at higher risk of poverty. Increasing amounts allocated to health care must be perceived by the public as offering value for money. Many difficult problems within social policy require comprehensive and advanced solutions to raise it to the standards expected of the 21st century.