Six new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on recent social policy developments in Cyprus, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands and Poland:
- In Cyprus, the Ministry of Health has secured commitment by all major political parties to voting a Law that prepares the introduction of the long-planned National Health Insurance Scheme. Attempts to drastically reform the country’s flawed healthcare system date back to the early 1990s, but failed due to disagreement among the major stakeholders. Circumstances seem to be favourable now to implement the much-needed reform.
- All Country Specific Recommendations for Hungary have highlighted since 2012 that the country should reform its public works scheme, i.e. Hungary’s main active labour market policy. The government has recently introduced substantial measures to modify the present scheme.
- In May 2017, the Liechtenstein parliament questioned the government on the accuracy of the criteria applied to people with disabilities requesting access to vocational training. It was suggested that the legally defined criteria should be revised to avoid discrimination. The government refused this, arguing that there is no evidence of discrimination.
- Malta’s budgets have been consistently used by successive administrations as instruments to consolidate social policy. The budget for 2017, presented in October 2016, represents another step in this direction. This Flash Report briefly evaluates the nature of the social measures announced in the 2017 budget and the extent to which they have been implemented so far. Most of these measures are simply a consolidation of previous policies, but a few are innovations that still need to be implemented.
- The traditional Dutch “polder model” stands for consensus-oriented consultation between the social partners, but is losing impact due to the increasing flexibility of work and the trade unions’ declining level of organisation. The model’s downfall is particularly visible in current debates on the duration of unemployment benefits as well as the number of recent strike announcements.
- The Polish education system has undergone several reforms since 2016: the mandatory school age was raised from 6 to 7 years, the organisation of schools has changed, compulsory general education will become shorter and tracking to general or vocational education secondary schools will take place earlier. These changes are likely to increase inequality of outcomes. They could also impact on the costs and the situation of teachers.