Social protection: a new area of action for EU development cooperation

The Directorate for Human and Society Development in DG DEVCO of the European Commission is presently preparing a communication on Social protection in EU development policy with the purpose of explaining “the role of SP in underpinning inclusive and sustainable development and the role of EU Development Cooperation in supporting the strengthening of social protection policies and systems.”
This communication will be part of the EC tools for the implementation of the Agenda for Change and its ‘inclusive growth’ central objective.

The obligation for governments to implement social protection programmes stems from the right to social security enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Social security standards are set out in the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention of 1952 (No. 102). Social protection is also one of the four pillars of the Decent Work Agenda, which the EU has committed to supporting in its development cooperation. It is in the context of that Decent work Agenda that the new EC communication is prepared.

As explained by an EC official taking part in the process, in the context of the communication, social protection refers to policies and measures that provide people with security against the risks and vulnerabilities that can both cause and deepen poverty. It also supports access to health and other essential services and income security throughout the lifecycle. It includes active labour market policies to help people to participate in economic activity and strengthens social cohesion through its role in supporting participation and reducing social polarisation through the redistribution of wealth.

Various aspects of social protection are usually referred to with specific terminology. Social security is usually used to refer to measures providing benefits, whether in cash or in kind, to secure protection from a variety of risks such as ill-health or unemployment. Contributory schemes are usually referred to as social insurance, while non-contributory schemes are usually referred to as social assistance.

It is the intention of the EC to produce a value based communication that addresses the question of Social protection as a human right in the context of growth with equity. Hence, the communication will refer to SP at the heart of EU social model based on the European values, universality and equity. That part of the communication should also tackle the problems faced by the EU today and the way to address them in the EU 2020 strategy.

The communication will then address social protection in the context of development and the different challenges relating to it in different categories of countries. At the centre of the EU approach will be the principle of strong national ownership including financing. Coordinated approach and support between the EC and the member states will also be covered by the communication as well as the question of policy coherence for development. The communication should also bring some more light on the specific type of measures and cooperation modalities in different categories of countries (LICs and MICs). In our view the communication should be accompanied with a set of guidelines so that EU delegations are in a position to discuss the question with partner governments during the upcoming EC aid programming process especially in the case social protection is identified as a priority sector for EC aid. Source: APRODEV.
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