Summary - Социальная Европа в ХХI веке
The twenty first century affects corrections and qualitative changes in our globalised world which, among other things, concern modern Europe. The increased significance of social consequences of these processes is becoming more evident and more often one can hear the opinion that it is social problems that will determine the essence of the new age.
The term ‘social dimension’ introduced into the scholar language a few years ago has embraced all the social problems as well as the theory and practice of social planning. The meaning and content of the term has often been the subject of discussions in academic and political community and in mass media as well. It is possible to agree with the conclusion that the social dimension is both a historical and virtual category. The term covers the complex of social developing problems which existed both in the past and in the present time and expresses the evolution of the humanity movement in the process of forming the world community capable to provide the interests of mankind and protect social and democratic rights of people.
The twentieth century demonstrated to us the greatest changes in social relations than ever before but the most interesting social experience (at least one of the most interesting) for more than half a century of its integration has been accumulated by the European Union (EU). Efficiently reacting to global processes of modern life, the European Union is trying to keep the so-called ‘European traditions’ and to protect civilization values formed during centuries within the framework of the ‘old continent’. The originality and richness of national cultures formed in various regions of Europe do not prevent the European Union from following the chosen way and relying on the common platform known as ‘the social core’ of Europe.
It can be said that the EU is seen as a model testing ground where various types of states working in the conditions of socio-oriented market economy are tested. Following the economic integration, the Community has started social integration.
To develop successfully any society needs a model which it chooses into line with its requirements, traditions, values and norms. As to Europe this kind of model has been created there and named the ‘European social model’ (ESM). The so-called ‘social core’, special treatment of people, defense of his political, democratic and social rights is its characteristic feature. The principles laid down in the ESM are following: social solidarity and cohesion, social justice, the creation of competitive economy based on knowledge, careful treatment of the environment.
Practically speaking, such model still remains a certain social ideal, which should be achieved. The basis for the pursuit of this goal is the idea which embodies the traditional values of the European civilization and the whole complex of final aims of social development. At the same time, the ESM has never been considered as a rigid scheme even though it was designed on the ideas of social justice and provision of the basic human rights. Even now it is being updated and supplemented reflecting changes taking place in the society.
However, the situation is far from being so unclouded and the treatment of the ESM among Europeans is not unanimous. This becomes especially noticeable during crisis events and difficulties in various spheres of the European community life: economy, finances, powers grids, social activities. It is not by chance that such phenomenon as ‘euroscepticism’ has appeared, the differences of the positions of member-states which are supposed to work unanimously within the framework of the EU are quite evident. This is not surprising. The member-states which differ from each other when measured by a number of indices: the level and quality of life, energy resources, national interests. Though the European Union demonstrates striving for the consolidation of European identity while retaining national diversity, it is quite often, that the strengthening of the work at the supranational level is considered to be the encroachment on national sovereignty.
Processes connected with globalization and, in particular, the consequences of the current economic and financial crisis inevitably lead to the understanding of necessity to act jointly at the highest level. It is not by chance that common spaces are formed: economic, information, education, innovation. Common currency, European citizenship, etc. have been introduced. It is the resources and social policy of the European Union that help the member-states to cope gradually with the consequences of the global crisis. The development of globalization, increase of integration processes in the EU have led, on the one hand, to the appearance of certain obstacles in the realization of social policy and, on the other hand, to the working out of new approaches to carry it out, to the formation of new principles of legal regulation.
The process of the movement of capitals, work force, services, commodities, etc. has greatly increased in the world in the past decade. Today the EU counties and other regions are connected not only by multilateral and bilateral agreements, there already exists mutual understanding of the necessity for all economic programs to join the context of the macroeconomic policy oriented to stability with the purpose of preventing crises that might reduce to zero the efforts to increase the quality of life. And this is the purpose of all the motive forces of modern society.
It is quite natural that the successful experience of the European Union is the example for many countries in various regions of the world. Not only trade and scientific and technical links have increased lately but also international cooperation for the solution of such global problems as protection of the environment, preservation of biodiversity, regulation of energy supply, fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal immigration. Evidently positive attitude to the values of the European social model is being formed in many regions of the world which demonstrate interest in the European experience.
This experience has been achieved in the course of the development of European integration process. The EU has been able to evaluate its advantages and to come across inevitable difficulties. As the integration expands and deepens, new opportunities for Europe appear, various aspects of its further evolution open. The successes of the economic integration quite rightly make it possible to raise the question about political integration. The social integration not only joins the general process but becomes the priority of the 21st century capable of becoming a connecting link of all aspects of the European integration, moreover, of influencing their efficiency and progressive development of the European community.