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Basic social protection floor debated at the MGEN International Days


The Education and Solidarity Network actively contributed to the MGEN International Day organised in Paris on 15 December 2010 on the topic of “mutual societies – a means of extending social protection throughout the world".


Four key messages emerged from this day attended by more than 300 French and European social protection and healthcare stakeholders:


-         The extension of social protection to the entire world population, and in particular to the poorest and most vulnerable, is vital for the social and economic development of our globalised world. According to Jean-Marie Spaeth (president of GIP SPSI), “social protection and universal cover are powerful tools for regulating globalisation.” Along with Christian Jacquier from the ILO, speakers also highlighted that achieving the millennium goals is not feasible without extending a certain level of social protection to all. And as Martin Hirsch, member of the basic social protection floor working group emphasised during his introductory speech, the issue of the basic social protection floor affects all countries throughout the world, including countries with an advanced system since: “the only safeguard for protecting our social protection system is for the two other categories, namely the poor countries and emerging countries, to have a social protection system". 


-         Mutual societies and other social economy stakeholders have an essential role to play in rallying citizens and contributing to the extension of social protection.  Noting the damage caused by the crisis and by the individualist financial outlook advocated by the neo-liberal model, the various speakers emphasised the importance of a more solidarity-based approach ensuring that everyone’s dignity is respected and guaranteeing universal access to the basic services required for a normal life (healthcare, education, food, dignity in old age, housing etc). However, “we will only succeed in defending this idea and persuading those in power to listen if movements like yours and, more generally speaking, all movements in the world apply some pressure to achieve this” (Martin Hirsch). By contrast, as highlighted by Thierry Beaudet on the subject of mutual societies, "limited to its current level of development, our model, and through this model, our vision of solidarity may be eroded by social deregulation and simplistic European and international standards”. Thierry Beaudet also emphasised that mutualisation is a key social protection tool: “a widening basis of mutualisation will bring improved social protection for all and a more sustainable economy for our social structures.”


-         The success of policies on extending social protection hinges on work carried out to raise awareness, educate and disseminate a “culture of social protection”. Without education and support for people, it is difficult to implement preventive actions, deploy social protection systems and ensure that the persons affected subscribe to them. In the long term, it is also difficult to increase citizens' involvement in social protection decisions - in short, there can be no social democracy and basic social protection floor without education! It is for precisely this reason that UNSA Education, a French trade union for education professionals, stated during the debates that it had drafted a resolution whereby all professional organisations which are members of Education International would pledge to promote education on social protection through action and commitment.


-         Finally, in addition to their rhetoric, social economy stakeholders must rally around tangible initiatives like those mentioned throughout the day by mutual society stakeholders and trade union organisations for education professionals acting within the scope of the Education and Solidarity Network: the development of mutual society solutions in Portugal, joint training of mutual society executives by European and South American stakeholders, joint thinking between mutual enterprises on setting up cross-border projects (cooperation between the MGEN and the Belgian Mutualité Socialiste or BENENDEN, an English mutual society), contributions to developing solidarity-based social protection solutions in countries as diverse as Burkina Faso and China etc.

icon English Newsletter 2011.1