1. The welfare state in 20 years — an attempted look into the future
by Jaroslaw Pietras Ph.D.
Minister for European Affairs, Poland
In today’s debate on a need for socio-economic transformations in Europe, one can frequently encounter an opinion that the welfare state, as we know it from the 20th century, sinks into oblivion. Ageing of the societies, high unemployment rate, low social activity and inefficiency of taxation and insurance systems preclude maintenance of high levels of social transfers. Without a radical reform of the foundations of the European social model, many of the European states can be threatened by bankruptcy. One can certainly ask a question — what shall come in exchange? Are we in time perspective of the coming 20 years to see a return of the late 19th century social model, where the assistance to the poor was founded on a charity and persons who — for various reasons — were unable to compete against others could solely count on support from their families? If it were so to happen, this would signify a return to a system that faced criticism not only from the most eminent philosophers or ethicists but also a vast majority of economists.