41st Ipse Meeting in Lisbon: Adapting the European Social Model to Major Transformations





The 41st Ipse Meeting, organized by the Institute for European Social Protection – Ipse – in partnership with mutual association Montepio, took place in Lisbon on April 23 and 24. This Meeting was an opportunity for debate and reflection on the transformations underway in Europe. It outlined paths for adapting and even promoting the European social model in a context of modernity and mature solidarity.      


Today’s society is growing ever more complex and fragmented. The European Union (EU) persistently strengthens its focus on competitiveness, steadily exacerbating rivalry among Member States at the expense of solidarity. This approach reflects the consequences of austerity policies, the decline of social capital in Europe and increased distrust for institutions in most Member States.  


It has become urgent to raise awareness among Europe’s population, organizing citizens and placing them once again at the heart of a European ambition solidly grounded in the values of justice and social responsibility. Social dialogue is essential in this context, provided that social partners succeed in putting forth a more constructive vision of negotiations. Rather than increased competition, Europe should afford greater protection to Member States’ competences regarding social issues and hold high the concepts of individual and human development in a collective environment, particularly promoting redistribution of wealth through strengthened social security policies tied in with initiatives to safeguard career paths.


Actors in the field of social protection also have a vital role to play. However, they face several challenges, in particular with personal mobility and the rapid expansion of digital technologies in their sectors. The questions surrounding posting of workers and the issue of social dumping are not new. They call for greater control to ensure that workers’ social rights are at long last effectively guaranteed throughout Europe. The growth of digital technologies and social networks in the insurance sector must encourage social protection actors to reexamine the nature of their work and their relationships with their clients.


Finally, as borders continue to crumble, partnerships are becoming a sine qua non for solidarity-based social protection providers to adapt to the new European landscape. Such enhanced cooperation is necessary, both within the insurance sector and with other stakeholders working in social fields (social partners, institutions, etc.). Europe-wide initiatives, and particularly legal provisions such as a statute for a European mutual, offer the advantage of furthering the development of partnerships among players in the social economy. Nonetheless, these actors must not wait for such tools to be created to cooperate fully, working together and fulfilling their roles as co-creators of a more social Europe. 


In September 2015, Ipse will publish the proceedings of the 41st Ipse Meeting, including all speeches and presentations made during the event. 


Press release also available in French and Portuguese