Opportunities for social participation in Europe are unevenly distributed. However, how much need is there for socio-political reform in the individual EU member states actually? Will the reforms already undertaken suffice to level the playing field on social issues? While there is a fairly clear picture of the state-of-play for social inclusion in the EU member states, that is one question which remains unanswered.
To cast light upon it, the Bertelsmann Stiftung developed a Reform Barometer in cooperation with the European Bureau for Policy Consulting and Social Research Vienna (Prof. Bernd Marin) and the University of St. Gallen (Prof. Christian Keuschnigg). The Reform Barometer is based on a Europe-wide expert survey, in which 1058 social scientists from across the EU took part. These experts were asked to assess the need for reform during the period from July 2014 to January 2016 from five different angles which relate to social justice (poverty prevention, equitable education, labour market access, social cohesion and non-discrimination and health), as well as to provide details on reform activity of national governments and its expected impact. The results make it possible to compare reform policy both across the five policy dimensions and between countries: so for example, they have shown that some Eastern European countries not only took more action than the average to improve social inclusion, but also received good marks from the experts for the quality of their reforms.
The Reform Barometer assesses the social policy reforms in the member states of the European Union. What are the benefits of such a tool and what are the most pressing issues regarding social inclusion? Four experts have shared their views with us.
The Great Recession hit Italy at a time of protracted structural weakness, affected by two decades of sluggish productivity growth and a high ratio of public debt to GDP. Almost ten years later, Italy has not solved its two main problems and is affected by a social emergency that can be observed in all of thedimensions analysed by the Social Justice Index. Italy ranks in the bottom third of all the main categories of the index and 25th out of the 28 EU countries overall. From a labour market perspective, Italy experienced a slight improvement in 2015 in comparison to 2014, but this was a general trend across all EU Member States and the extent of its improvement remained strictly below average.