Embarking poverty, offering good education for everybody, fighting discrimination and strengthening social cohesion, making the health system and the job market more fair: Above all in these five areas the EU member states have to do something. But some countries fail to launch the reforms, that are needed. Especially in the fields of education and migration they don't do enough. That shows our reform barometer for whom we asked 1,000 European scientists.
In the field of education there is light and shadow in Europe
In the opinion of the scientists consulted, there is currently a considerable need for reform in all five of the named areas. The largest gaps are seen as being in education. The lowest levels of action on education policy reform were found in Greece, Lithuania and Spain. By contrast, while the United Kingdom has displayed an above-average level of activity, in some cases this has led to negative social consequences. Experts cite increases to student fees, which have been drastic in some cases, as an example. Malta has performed best on education policy reform. They gave positive evaluations for a program for school students who drop out, free childcare and the launch of evening and online courses for students who need flexibility, among other things.
Lifelong learning is neglected in some EU member states
A gap year, apprenticeship, studies, further education beside the job: Everybody can benefit from lifelong learning. But some EU member states don't support it in the appropriate way. In ten countries experts found no reforms of any kind taking place to try to improve financial or human resources for lifelong learning.
In some European countries the social background is still too important for educational attainment. But the experts stated that at the moment six countries are not taking action at all on this issue: Croatia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia and Spain.
Europe-wide failures in the field of integration
Against the background of the refugee situation integrating people successfully is crucial everywhere in Europe. But here the scientists have given the EU member states poor marks. The most pressing problem is the fight against poverty. The experts reported that in 15 states there are no significant measures in place to combat poverty among foreigners.
In the refugee situation there is need for action for all EU member states: Refugees have to be registered, asylum procedures have to be conducted orderly and the people need support for learning the new language and for the job search. But in most of the European countries there was either very little action for appropriate reforms or they had negative effects. For example, the Danish government has halved social support for asylum seekers. By contrast, Italy received a positive evaluation from the experts – for the integration of foreigners in general and refugees in particular. According to the scientists, legislators have improved the registration process for asylum seekers there. In addition to this, refugees are granted a residence permit for six months and are allowed to work after just two months.
Please find the complete study here and detailed data for all EU member states in our online tool (please select reform barometer under "instrument)
Our Reform Barometer has been developed in cooperation with Bernd Marin from the European Bureau for Policy Consulting and Social Research in Vienna and Christian Keuschnigg from the University of St. Gallen. It is part of our project "Social Inclusion Monitor (SIM) Europe", which regularly carries out research into and evaluations of opportunities for social participation and reform policies in the 28 EU member states. As many as 1,058 social scientists from all over Europe took part in the survey. The online survey took place in the spring of 2016 and covered the period from July 2014 to January 2016. The results enable reform policy to be compared both across topic areas and countries.
Publication: Social Policy in the EU – Reform Barometer 2016