European countries are losing momentum for social policy reforms: The results of the SIM Europe Index report on social justice, published in September 2014, suggested a growing social divide among the member states. Assessing six policy areas of social inclusion, the data revealed the deteriorating social situation since 2009 across the EU. The report stressed, in particular, the difficulties southern EU member states were having in coping with the effects of the financial and economic crisis.
This second report, the SIM Europe Reform Barometer, takes up these results and delivers two tasks: to impartially assess the extent of problem awareness of governments, and to ask whether they have enacted concrete social policy initiatives to tackle these challenges and to counterbalance the growing divide. Southern European member states, especially, did not or have not been able to pursue reforms to limit their withering levels of a socially inclusive society. In almost all key dimensions of social inclusion, those member states most affected by the implications of the protracted economic and fiscal crisis in the EU have been least able to confine the ongoing ‘internal devaluation’ in terms of socially balanced governmental activity. By contrast, some northern member states have legislated acts which seem well-suited to at least stabilise or even increase their level of social inclusion.