EUROPE - Joaquín Almunia, the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, says the continent’s social models will not have to be sacrificed to deal with population ageing and globalization.

Instead they will have to be modernized and adapted to deal with the dual challenge, he told an audience in Brussels today.

“One of the most widespread concerns among the citizens of the EU is that in responding to globalisation and ageing, Europe will have to fundamentally change the way its social models work.

“Indeed many fear that the European social models will have to be sacrificed in the quest to make public finances sustainable,” the commissioner told a forum organised by Ambrosetti and The Wall Street Journal.

“I believe this will not happen. The existing European social models reflect Europeans’ social preferences and therefore their core elements should not and will not be touched. But they will have to be modernised and adapted to cope with globalisation and ageing.”

And he reminded delegates that pension and labour market reforms are the responsibility of individual Member States.

Countries now have to present national reform programmes in which they identify the main challenges they face and the measures to address them.

Almunia said the Commission is currently assessing the programmes and will produce a progress report in January.

And he noted that any structural reform strategy “must rest on the firm ground provided by a stable macroeconomic environment”.