Members of the SI Committee on Economic Policy, Labour and National Resources met in Stockholm on 11-12 June 2009 to examine the example of the Nordic experience in their discussions on building a Global Welfare Statehood, and to discuss the Committee’s contribution to the forthcoming Council meeting due to take place in Montenegro at the end of June.
The concept of a Global Welfare Statehood, was proposed by the Socialist International at its last Congress in Athens in 2008, combining market competition with social integration by decent work and public social security systems. Through a panel discussion, which included Peter Palshoj, Secretary of the Nordic Trade Union movement, SAMAK; Jan-Erik Stostad, State Secretary in the Norwegian Labour Department; and Emma Lennartsson, Chair of the Labour Movement Economic Council, moderated by Ann Linde of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, members of the Committee engaged in an in-depth and wide-ranging debate on the various dimensions of the Nordic experience and the sustainability of that model, and comparing it with the different national realities and cultural traditions of their respective countries.
In the wake of the financial crisis, it was agreed that two universal ideological elements had emerged: that the market was not a self-regulating organism and that governments could not abdicate from the responsibility to set rules and intervene to restore economic stability. However, with this crisis there existed a danger that the welfare state could be destroyed. A new global welfare statehood was therefore required and the Nordic experience showed that there was no disparity between a policy aimed at dynamic economy and social, welfare-oriented, initiatives and a regime of full democratic freedom, and that it was possible to combine growth with social justice.
Following a rich debate, participants discussed and agreed a paper on this topic which could serve as a useful source of reference for SI members. It was also agreed that future meetings of the Committee could be organised to further discuss this concept of a Global Welfare Statehood, increasing awareness elsewhere that publicly financed social security is an advantage for all citizens, rich and poor. Increased awareness of the basic values behind a social model and its actual design would have a positive effect on development in other states, with an interconnection between implementation of a functioning social protection, social inclusiveness, equal opportunities, and larger and fair taxes.
In view of the forthcoming Council meeting in Montenegro at the end of June, the Committee debated a text which would form the basis of the Committee’s proposal for a draft resolution to be presented to the Council by the Chair of the Committee, Christoph Zopel, on the challenges of global development in 2009, focussing on the economic, social, environmental and cultural dimensions.