Informations and abstract
Keywords: Social Investment; European Semester; Europe 2020; European Social Dimension; Welfare State Reform.
The Social Investment Package (SIP) can be seen as a platform set up by the Commission's Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) to increase its ability to influence decisions taken within the European Semester and to steer social policy reforms in the Member States. Key elements of DG EMPL's strategy are: a) the promotion of the language and rationale of social investment; b) its translation into concrete policy areas, principles and measures; and c) the development of a policy tool-box for its implementation. This article aims at shedding light on the evolution of this strategy three years after the publication of the SIP. I conclude that a clear-cut assessment of the strategy is premature, since implementation of its key elements has met with varying degrees of success. A policy infrastructure supporting the implementation of the SIP has been set up, and social investment-related policy areas and principles have been to some extent embedded in the European Semester. Yet, the language and rationale of social investment have been taken up solely by EU social actors and not by others. This has not significantly informed broader debates at the EU level nor has it diluted the focus on fiscal consolidation. Recent developments are contradictory. While some signs suggest that the pursuit of a comprehensive social investment strategy has been set aside, other initiatives indicate a possible re-launch.