Andor wants member states to spend more on pre-school care.
Member states should spend more on pre-school care to make it more widely accessible, according to László Andor, the European commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion.
As part of a series of measures he is expected to propose on Wednesday (20 February), he is to say that pre-schooling helps children achieve better and earn more later in life, and that countries should redirect more of their budgets into this area. His recommendations form part of a ‘social investment package for growth and cohesion' aimed at improving economic growth through social policy. In addition to his plans for breaking the cycle of disadvantage in childhood, Andor will also outline ways of tackling care for an increasingly aged society, confronting homelessness and improving healthcare. He will propose a formal Commission recommendation on the fight against child poverty, and announce draft legislation on access to basic payment services, and support to social innovation, microfinance and social enterprises.
He will say that countries should increase the effectiveness of their social protection systems. Budgets should focus on policies which yield “high returns” throughout people's lifetimes, such as childcare, education, training, active labour-market policies, housing support, rehabilitation and health services.
While the main thrust of the package is to provide countries with guidance, Andor has ambitions to secure implementation by using employment and poverty targets in the Commission's Europe 2020 strategy. Further guidance is envisaged as part of the country-specific recommendations issued as part of the European Semester programme of greater economic policy co-ordination.
The package stems from an acknowledgement that member states face rising poverty, an ageing population, high levels of inequality and record unemployment rates at the same time as they are being forced to cut public spending. “Under-investment in social policies now will result in greater costs in the future,” according to a background document from the Commission, which argues that “targeted social spending” would help people “integrate better into the labour market” and would benefit society as a whole.
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