Helping tackling some of Europe’s major challenges
How can Europe best address challenges related to issues such as poverty, and unemployment? That was the underlying question at a conference on social innovation that opened in Brussels yesterday. With programmes in several of the relevant areas, the Grants are helping our beneficiary countries to address some of these matters.
Broadly speaking, social policy innovation means developing new ideas, services and models to better address social issues. It invites input from public and private sector as well as civil society. The importance of cooperation across sectors was highlighted by the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor who opened the event. In his opening remarks, Mr Andor emphasised that social policy plays a crucial role in reaching the goals the EU has set out for itself in the Europe 2020 Strategy. He also underlined that social policy is important for the EU as a whole.
“The European Union is not only an economic or monetary project, it is also social project”, he said.
Through the Grants, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have earmarked funding for many areas relevant to social policy, such as decent work and tripartite dialogue, civil society and public health. Representing the Grants at the conference was Ambassador Ingrid Schulerud who participated in a panel on social policy innovation and the potential of the EU’s structural and investment funds. In her remarks, Ms Schulerud highlighted the support of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to civil society and the support of the three countries to the targets set forth in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Echoing Mr Andor’s opening remarks; Ambassador Schulerud also highlighted the need for cooperation between public and private organisations for creating innovative social policies.
The conference has its second and last day today.