Finnish social and health sector NGOs promoting Wellbeing Economy during Finland’s EU presidency

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Finnish social and health sector NGOs see the following policy domains fundamental in building the future of Europe:

  1. Wellbeing in all policies
  2. Equality and basic rights
  3. Participation in society and dynamic civil society

Finland will hold the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union starting 1st of July 2019. During the presidency Finland will be leading the work on EU legislation and the policy initiatives ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda in cooperation with the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Within the field of social affairs and health the main theme of the EU presidency will be Wellbeing Economy (or Economy of Wellbeing). For example, the activities and initiatives of the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will be gathered under this umbrella theme. Originally, the concept of Wellbeing Economy was developed by Finnish social and health sector NGOs and therefore, the EU presidency is an excellent opportunity for NGOs to make their wellbeing-generating work visible and to influence EU policies.

What is Wellbeing Economy?

Wellbeing Economy may be perceived both as a vision of the future economic and social model and as a certain, already existing sector of our society. When the goal of some societal action is to increase wellbeing and to improve the prospects of a good life it takes place in the sphere of Wellbeing Economy. The actions of the NGOs working in the field of social affairs and health are central elements and building blocks of Wellbeing Economy.

Wellbeing Economy is based on a broad concept of wellbeing. In Wellbeing Economy, wellbeing is considered to consist of individual resources and participation. Individual resources include satisfactory health, sufficient material resources, social wellbeing and empowering social relationships, self-confidence, trust in community one lives in and critical consciousness. Participation refers to the opportunity of people to participate in the decision-making of one’s own community, and in the development of the community, as its full members. Building the Wellbeing Economy ultimately consists of strengthening the above factors and investing in them. The vision of a wellbeing economy can be described in one sentence as follows, ”Working together to build a good life for everyone”.

Promoting Wellbeing Economy in the EU

Finnish social and health sector NGOs want to see Wellbeing Economy strengthening all over Europe. To make this to happen

  1.  when the future strategy of the European Union is laid down, the vision of Wellbeing Economy should be at the heart of it
  2.  the strategy should guide all the actions of the European Union from specific policies and initiatives to more general policy programmes
  3.  EU’s policies should be reformed as follows:
    1. European Semester: from economic policy coordination to general policy coordination, i.a. social- and health policy, gender equality policy, education policy and environmental and climate policy should be included in the semester process
    2. EU budget: integrating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF)
    3. EU legislation: more progressive legislation i.a. minimum standards for social security and more comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation