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SIP 2017, WG3: Impact of pain on labour and employment

SIP 2017, WG3: Impact of pain on labour and employment
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Co-Chairs and Speaker of this Working Group

Antonella Cardone, Antony Chuter, Britta Lambers, Brona Fullen, David Tjong, Decuman Saskia, Dolores Gauci, John M. Cachia, Julien Nizard, Michiel Reneman, Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, Peter Van Wambeke, Raul Marques Pereira, Sarah Copsey, Stephen Bevan, Viorica Cursaru

The European Union and its Member States are facing a substantial challenge in terms of among others ageing Population, chronicity, and the need to address involuntary early retirement and workforce sustainability. In several European countries, chronic pain is one of the most common causes of long term sick leave and disability. In the 2017 annual growth report the European institutions state that: the effects of demographic developments (…); the impact of ageing populations on pension and healthcare systems in the EU; will have a significant impact on public finances. The European Commission has found that health status is a major predictor of labour supply. Therefore, decreasing the incidence of diseases and disabilities results in increases to the total number of years active in the labour force with higher quality of life for the individual and decreases in public expenditures. According to the study “Fit for Work Europe” conducted across 23 European countries by the Work Foundation, half of all EU citizens suffer from back pain at some stage during their lives. Approximately 15% of people with back pain remain off work for more than one month. More days are lost due to back, neck and muscle pain than any other cause. Finding solutions to these issues will not only help those who have to cope with the chronic diseases in everyday life, but will also help us preserve the health systems that we all cherish. Together we can find solutions to create sustainable Systems of care for the future.

Policy opportunity
The European employment strategy dates back to 1997, when the EU Member States ventured to establish a set of common objectives and targets for employment policy. It now constitutes part of the Europe 2020 growth strategy and is implemented through the European semester, an annual process promoting close policy coordination among EU Member States and EU Institutions. The European Semester, the system of economic and fiscal policy guidance by the Commission to Member States, presents an opportunity to show that better pain care has a role to play in improving social and employment policies, which in turn can support Member States’ fiscal sustainability. Any guidance coming from the Commission should be based on the best evidence available on the financial impact of pain care policies.

Institutional timeline
• European Semester process –provide evidence to DG ECFIN, DG EMPL and European Member State Finance Ministries
• Data collection on the impact of pain on the European work force and the savings that could be made if chronic pain was acknowledged and treated or managed effectively.

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