Six new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social policy Network (ESPN) have just become available and provide information on recent policy initiatives in Germany, Liechtenstein, Greece and France.

  • On 8 July 2016, the German Federal Legislator passed an integration law (Integrationsgesetz) which provides a legal basis for the integration of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in Germany. The promotion of a mix of rights and obligations for the newly arrived is the guiding principles of the German integration policy.
  • The Liechtenstein government’s decision (2011) to reduce the state contribution to statutory health insurance had a significant effect on the premium fees. In March 2016, a small political party launched a popular initiative for a new contributory insurance system offering taxable income-related premiums instead of equal premiums. The question remains whether this proposal would help to narrow the gap between low- and high-earners, and could guarantee a stable financial situation for the healthcare insurance scheme.
  • The Greek pension reform of May 2016 includes the integration of all insurance funds into one agency, the replacement of the main pension by a national pension and a contributory pension, the introduction of uniform rules and equal pension rights as well as measures for the containment of pension expenditure. The new pension reform aims to improve governance and ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the system, but questions are raised about the adequacy of pensions.
  • The high inflow of people seeking international protection, along with the closure of the Balkan route to northern Europe and the EU-Turkey Agreement, have left nearly 57,000 of them “trapped” in Greece. As this population is changing from a population in transit to a more permanent one, the state should not only aim to respond to short-term basic needs but also to address long-term needs relating to their social integration.
  • The reform of the French Labour Code in 2016 enacts laxer rules for companies regarding dismissal and working time. At the same time, it outlines perspectives for additional employee protection. It fundamentally changes the nature of social dialogue but fails to address key labour market issues such as support for jobseekers or social protection for the self-employed. It is unlikely that its impact will be felt in the short term.
  • The Danish government presented its “2025 reform proposals” on 1 September 2016. One proposal is to mandate funded pension coverage to individuals who are currently not saving sufficiently for old age. The government also proposes to improve incentives to save for old age in the last five working years.