Welfare State Futures: What Role for Solidarity? – Scientific Programme Coordinator Ellen Immergut’s Address at the State of the Union Conference, May 10-12, 2018 in Florence, Italy.

Key note speakers at the Eighth State of the Union included, among others, Jean-Claude Juncker, Mario Draghi, and Federica Mogherini.

For the 8th time since 2011, The State of the Union Conference in Florence brought together leading statesmen, policy experts and scholars to discuss the most pressing issues faced by Europe and Europeans today. As this year’s theme was “Solidarity in Europe,” Immergut’s keynote address provided an excellent opportunity to present key findings of the Welfare State Futures Programme and to link them to the future of solidarity in Europe.

Key Points
Since the Second World War, European Welfare States have been highly successful in virtually eliminating old-age poverty, enabling universal access to health care, and establishing a basic social safety net. Europeans express high levels of solidarity.

Welfare State Futures depend logically upon the treatment of children, youth and immigrants. This requires social investment, including human capital investments and investments in the social services. Social services create jobs and increase tax revenues.

Rising inequality, divergence of risk structures within and between nation states, public perceptions of unfairness and injustice in welfare state policies, and the rise of populism all currently threaten social solidarity and social investment.

The European Union can support nation states in strengthening solidarity by focusing on investment rather than austerity, providing an action plan for the European Pillar of social rights, and developing a European public philosophy that clearly communicates the moral purpose of European policies in a manner that is ethically plausible to the individual citizen.

The Keynote Speeches of the conference can be found here: https://stateoftheunion.eui.eu/keynote-speeches/. as well as a video of the State of the Union Address https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgURtXgCGs4#t=161m46s