Jobs and society  |  Publications  |  13.07.2011

A Green Vision for a Social Europe

Policy document outlining the Green vision for an inclusive and cohesive society that was adopted by the European Green Party Council in October 2008.

European Greens stand for a Europe which guarantees all citizens the possibility to emancipate themselves, to establish their own lives in diversity and to participate in society. Citizens must enjoy equal opportunities and equal rights and benefit from an active social policy and a robust social protection. In their perspective, these objectives are as important as the ecological and economic objectives. The Greens reject a neoliberal globalisation which increases insecurity and the competition of all against all. Solidarity and responsibility must be the cornerstones of an inclusive and cohesive society. The challenges European societies are facing are enormous. Europe looks richer than ever however poverty and social exclusion are rising. The reality is that neither the Barroso Commission and the conservative majority dominating the EU Council and Parliament nor the national governments have answered these challenges.

For European Greens, a social Europe is not just a pleasant add-on to the European Single Market. A social Europe, one that really enables and empowers everyone to live a fulfilling life, within the limits of this planet and in solidarity with all its people and the future generations, is an integral part of the European identity and a key ingredient to our future success. Within Europe, the organisation of the welfare state has so far been a national competency. While the Greens believe the European Union should not aim at developing a “one size fits all” welfare state which should replace those in force at national level, we believe it has an increasing role to play in that field. The Greens are not striving for a total harmonisation of an EU-social model, but rather for minimum standards that every welfare state should fulfil.

It is the responsibility of society to create conditions for citizens to realise their talents and ambitions, to choose their lives and to participate. It has to take care of social justice and social inclusion for all. Social inclusion of all members of a society is for the Greens not only a moral imperative, but an unalienable right of any citizen as well as a basic requirement for a free, participatory, peaceful but also innovative and dynamic society. Social inclusion is also a precondition for a gender-balanced and discrimination-free society. If society is to live up to all its responsibilities, it has to devote substantial financial and human means to social policy. Social welfare is for the Greens a value, not just a cost. Their idea of social inclusion, which has to be the backbone of a social Europe, comprehends the basic social rights, including the universal right to income, to affordable housing, to health care, to education, to work, to a good environment, to culture etc. and a guarantee of social security. It also includes fair working income, good work and the access to it, sufficient benefits for those who need them, sustainable and universal pensions, free access to social and public services like child-care but also an individual entitlement to all basic goods and services of general interest: energy, water, mobility supported by a well developed public transport-system; public space for children and young people to realise their ideas, public support in adapting apartments and public space in an ecological way, healthy food and a high level of useful and barrier-free social support-services.

For the Greens, such an inclusive and cohesive society is not a one-way street from the state to the citizens. We believe we all have responsibilities for our own lives, towards one another and to society. While all of us stand to benefit from a really social Europe, it will not come true without us all taking our share, in whatever small or big way, to build this new society.

Summary of the document.

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