Chapter 1: The European Social Model in times of crisis: An overview
Over the past decades Europe’s low rates of illiteracy, quality of public services, high access to education and to health, and good and improving living and working conditions can all be attributed to the European Social Model (ESM). Welfare policies have guaranteed stability and social peace, and have shown that economic and social developments are interrelated. This social dimension also contributed to forge European identity, and pushed it towards the objective of ‘the most competitive knowledge economy in the world’ (defined at the Lisbon summit, March 2000). According to Jacques Delors (2013): ‘The European social model exists and, as European citizens, we can be proud of it . . . Social matters are not an expense or a cost but the most profitable investment for the future. With the growing individualisation of our societies, Europe needs collective rules’.