Fordelingsvirkninger av nasjonale tiltak og reformer

Fordelingsvirkninger av nasjonale tiltak og reformer

Meddelelse fra Kommisjonen til Europaparlamentet, Rådet, Den europeiske økonomiske og sosiale komite og Regionsutvalget. Bedre vurdering av fordelingsvirkningener av medlemslandenes politikk
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Better assessing the distributional impact of Member States’ policies

Meddelelse lagt fram av Kommisjonen 28.9.2022

Nærmere omtale

BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsmeddelelsen, engelsk utgave)

Evidence-based policymaking is crucial for ensuring successful policies and the credibility of policy actions. In particular, impact assessments allow to make informed policy choices and distributional impact assessments help understand how they are likely to affect different parts of the population. This is especially relevant as the European Union and its Member States strive for socially fair digital and green transitions and face challenges related to the rising cost of living due to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.

Europe’s unique social market economy is the bedrock of its prosperity. In her political guidelines, President von der Leyen stressed the importance of leaving no one behind in the digital and green transitions. She also highlighted the contribution of the European Pillar of Social Rights proclaimed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in 2017, setting out 20 principles for a strong social Europe that is fair and inclusive and ensures equal opportunities.

At the Social Summit in Porto in May 2021, EU leaders welcomed the target of lifting at least 15 million people out of poverty and social exclusion by 2030, as presented by the Commission in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Just one year on from the Social Summit, the EU Member States have committed themselves to reaching national targets to collectively achieve that goal. In parallel, within the framework of the Action Plan, new initiatives at EU level aim to contribute to reducing income inequalities, including the directive on minimum wage and the proposal for a Council recommendation on minimum income schemes.

Poverty and income inequality are relatively low in the EU by international standards, and poverty and social exclusion have declined over the last decade, although income inequality did increase for people with lower incomes following the recession in 2008-2012. Action taken by the EU and national governments (including temporary job support schemes and automatic stabilisers) cushioned the socioeconomic blow of the COVID-19 crisis and prevented inequality from further increasing. Still, the pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on women and some groups like young people, low-skilled workers and persons with disabilities.

While Europe is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, social cohesion could be affected by current developments. Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has brought high economic uncertainty, especially in the supply of energy and food prices. High inflation risks exacerbating the situation of low-income households and other disadvantaged groups, while supply chain uncertainty could have an impact on employment in certain sectors.

The EU and its Member States are working to cushion the economic impact of the war. To wean Europe off Russian fossil fuels, the Commission’s REPowerEU Plan has put forward several options: saving energy, diversifying energy supplies, and accelerating the roll-out of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in homes, industry and power generation. The Commission’s “Save gas for a safe winter” plan aims at accelerating the phasing out of Russian fossil fuels and decreasing EU gas demand while paying specific attention to vulnerable consumers. In addition, the Commission proposals for an emergency intervention in Europe’s energy markets aim at tackling recent dramatic price rises and ease the pressure they are putting on households and businesses across the EU. To counteract rapidly increasing food and energy prices, Member States have adopted measures aimed at mitigating the impact of inflation on households, in particular the most vulnerable ones.

Climate change and digitalisation are also expected to have an impact on income distribution and inequalities. The green transition has the potential to create up to 1 million additional jobs by 2030 and 2 million by 2050 as well as to improve the job quality, but its repercussions on the labour market may vary across sectors, regions, degree or urbanisation (urban/rural), skills needed or types of jobs. The European Green Deal and the Fit for 55 package present the EU’s mid-term response to addressing climate change and integrate the social dimension into its policymaking from the outset. To reach the EU’s energy and climate targets for 2030, Member States have drawn up integrated national energy and climate plans to be updated regularly. They are also committed to adopting a comprehensive policy for a fair transition towards climate neutrality. The Council Recommendation on ensuring a fair transition towards climate neutrality sets concrete guidance to Member States on how to address the relevant employment and social aspects linked to the transition, including by analysing the distributional impact of the policy measures, while making full use of funding opportunities. The Commission has also presented its vision for Europe’s digital transformation by 2030 and proposed a Digital Compass for the EU’s Digital Decade. Basic digital skills for everyone and the opportunity for the workforce to acquire specialised skills in information and communications technology feature prominently, as does the importance of reskilling and upskilling in order to prevent exacerbating the digital divide between low- and high-skilled workers.

Recent surveys show that social inequalities are Europeans’ biggest concern (followed by employment, environmental issues and climate change) and the biggest increase in terms of concerns at EU level relates to rising prices/inflation and the cost of living. Even before the pandemic, over 80% of EU citizens wanted their national governments to take further measures to reduce income inequalities. High income inequality can have damaging effects on economic growth and endanger social cohesion, putting the social market economy model at risk, thereby undermining European values. Income inequalities and lack of social fairness are a growing concern not only for people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, but also for most middle-income people.

To make sure that the long-term trends and short-term shocks described above do not exacerbate existing inequalities, it is imperative to improve the quality of policymaking by better assessing the distributional impact of existing and new policies and reforms. When designing them, it is vital to understand their impact on different socioeconomic groups and different geographical areas. This is necessary to better target policies and mitigate their possible adverse effects, in order to reach the 2030 poverty reduction goals and ensure sustainable, inclusive and fair transitions.

This Communication provides guidance for Member States on how best to conduct distributional impact assessments on the income of different socio-economic groups and incorporate them into their policymaking processes. It sets out a process for further developing existing methodologies together with the Member States, and presents the support the Commission can make available to the Member States.