Social policy mainly lies in the competence of national governments. The European Union coordinates and monitors social policies of Member States, promotes the exchange of best practices and supports the latter through financing schemes. Social policies at European level deal with various subjects:
• social inclusion and combating poverty;
• the impact of the ageing population;
• equal opportunities;
• modernisation of pension systems and welfare systems;
• free movement of workers.
The Europe 2020 strategy was launched in 2010 and aims to create adequate conditions for a different development model which is smarter, more sustainable and fair. It is important to note that the European Union intends to sustain inclusive growth and to create an economy with high levels of employment in order to guarantee social and territorial cohesion. It takes these goals into account when developing and implementing policies at EU-level.
The new strategic agenda of the EU, such as the Europe 2020 Strategy, has a clear orientation towards the “social pillar”. The “social pillar” aims at diminishing the number of people who are in poverty or at risk of social exclusion by 20 million until 2020, as well as renewing its commitment to achieving an employment rate of 75% among people aged between 20-64.
Furthermore, the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009 and includes the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This Charter is legally binding on EU-Member States and guarantees the social rights of all citizens residing in the EU.