Sweden remains most socially just EU state

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Sweden remains most socially just EU state

Sweden is the best place in the EU when it comes to social justice, but a new report suggests the Scandiavian country's halo is slipping when it comes to integration and foreign access to the labour market.


The Nordic nation regularly comes top of the annual social justice index produced by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a leading German think tank.
However, while maintaining its position as the best performing country in 2015, it was singled out as a place facing "problems in the areas of labour market access and integration".
The report's authors pointed to Sweden's youth unemployment rate of 22.9 percent, compared to a national average of 8.1 percent. On this measure, Sweden came just 15th in the EU, with Germany taking the lead for tackling the problem and Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all scoring spots above their Baltic neighbour.
"Severe problems" for immigrants seeking jobs were also highlighted in the report, which quoted the conclusions of previous research for SGI, a cross-national study of governance.
"Sweden shares this problem with a large number of countries but it has proven to be exceptionally inept at this aspect of integration. The large number of unemployed immigrants erodes integration policies to a great extent and this will be a major challenge for policymakers in the future,” said the SGI study's authors.
As well as looking at access to jobs, the Bertelsmann Foundation's index considered poverty prevention, education, social cohesion, health, and intergenerational justice.
Sweden was most highly praised on the last of these points, for ensuring its policies help both current and future generations, for example by promoting renewable energy.
It was ranked second after the Netherlands for social cohesion and celebrated for having the highest gender equality of any national parliament in the EU.
But the report again cited SGI research noting that while discrimination of any kind is not officially tolerated, “ethnic segmentation in several suburbs of the metropolitan areas in Sweden" has increased.
Denmark and Finland finished in second and third place overall in the index.
Southern and eastern nations including Greece, Spain, Romania and Portugal packed the lower end of the rankings, while while Italy also languished near the bottom of the table in 25th place.


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