Social protection and the EU Social Market Economy Model

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The European model of society is based on the concept of a social market economy aiming at full employment and social progress. EU Member States provide a wide range of social protection models all of them built on the principles of solidarity and aiming at high levels of social inclusion and social justice, which are continuously adapting to important phenomena affecting the global economy (demographic change, global competition, urbanisation, migration, chronic disease…), and have proved very relevant to support the challenges faced by partner countries in the fields of employment and social protection. Logically, the 2017 EU Consensus on Development enshrines the commitment from the EU and its Member States to support "efficient, sustainable and equitable social protection systems to guarantee basic income, prevent relapses into extreme poverty and build resilience… and support innovative social practices". Throughout the developing world, a growing number of middle- and low-income countries are formulating and implementing national social protection strategies. Despite these progresses, such schemes leave behind an important part of the populations due to weak coverage, often limited to people working in the formal private and public sectors or to some extreme poor through targeted social assistance programmes. Given its strong experience in social protection, the European Union has a decisive role to play to support partner countries' efforts towards the strengthening of social protection systems, as access to employment, decent work, and social protection is an essential building block of inclusive and sustainable development.