'The European Social Model cannot be defined as a single model, which can apply in the same way to all European regions and states. The Europe's regions are convinced that any definition of the European Social Model must be grounded in diversity and take account of the various traditions and needs in evidence across Europe. Therefore any European action in this area must respect the principle of subsidiarity' said Stig-Erik Westmark, President of the Social Cohesion, Social Policy and Public Health Committee of the Assembly of European Regions (AER).
During the AER conference on the future of the European Social Model, held in s-Hertogenbosch (Noord-Brabant, NL) on 13th October, the European regions have adopted a common declaration and called upon the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, meeting on 27th October 2005 in Surrey-UK, to fully acknowledge and respect this diversity of social models across Europe, by applying the principle of subsidiarity at European and national level as well.
The European regions have also defined, as the foundation of the European Social Model, a set of common principles and values such as solidarity, social justice, social inclusion, equal access to employment, with particular respect to the young and the disabled, gender equality, equal access to health and social protection, universal access to education, to health and social services, equal opportunities for all society, in particular as regards the elderly, the young, the disabled and the socially excluded.
'These principles must be respected at all instances of European Union law-making. And if there is any European legislative proposal linked to the European Social Model, this should have as its legal basis the Treaty provisions relating to health and social policy and should not be based on the rules of the internal market' stressed Stig-Erik Westmark.
The Europe's regions regret however that the debate on the European Social Model has been launched in a negative climate of citizens' concern over the future of health and social services, in particular following the outcomes of the French and Dutch referenda on the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.
In this context, the Assembly of European Regions will continue to examine specific aspects of this debate on an individual basis, with the aim of helping its member Regions to identify and implement sustainable responses to the challenges they face today.
13th October 2005
Ourania Georgoutsakou, Secretary to the Committee 'Social Cohesion, Social Services and Public Health' or Claudia Meschede, Assistant, Tel: +33 3 88 22 74 33/35; @: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com