The Social Order
69. The economic system and the social order are inseparably linked, with each delimiting and complementing the other. Any economic policy that lacks social justice endangers social peace and at the same time leads to economic losses and social instability. The social system we advocate is one that combines the principles of humanity and economic viability and creates justice where performance and distribution are concerned. It aims to strengthen individual responsibility and encourage private initiative and active solidarity.
Our policy on the social system is based on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. We want the community to protect the individual from those risks that he or she cannot bear alone. The concepts of compulsory social insurance and equity in the provision of services are central to the social order we believe in, as are decentralization and the self-regulation of social insurance schemes.
Our social order is based to a large degree on inter-generational solidarity. Given the far-reaching demographic changes that are now occurring, we must be careful not to subject this inter-generational contract to excessive strain. Our understanding of the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity allows for an acceptable level of risk to be shouldered by the individual now that society has reached a certain level of prosperity.
The idea of a social partnership in industry is particularly important for our social order and for the success of our economy. A comparison with many other industrial states shows just how important social peace is for productivity. Social partnership in an ecological and social market economy means above all worker co-determination, self-regulation in social insurance, employee shareholdings in companies, and free collective bargaining.
The right to free collective bargaining is an important component of this country’s social peace. The idea of partnership requires well-functioning trade unions and employers’ associations. Trade unions and management bear a special responsibility for ensuring full employment, monetary stability and growth, and thus the general prosperity of society. Employee protection measures, worker co-determination, employee shareholdings in companies, social partnership, and equal rights for women and men constitute other basic elements of our social order.
The Ecological Order
70. We Christian Democrats have added an ecological dimension to the social market economy. More so than in the past, we want to use market forces and control mechanisms to ensure that nature and the environment are treated with respect. The objective of an ecological and social market economy is to achieve a synthesis of the economy, social justice, and ecology.
Our responsibility for God's creation must also guide our economic actions. We must make the interdependence of humanity, nature, and the environment the guiding principle of these actions. Our approach to ecological matters is based on prevention and the "polluter pays" principle. In the future, we want everyone who fails to care for the environment, or who damages it, to pay for his or her actions as a producer or a consumer. This can only be guaranteed by product pricing that reflects the actual environmental cost of production. In this way, we hope to signal our determination to preserve the environment and to encourage others to do so as well.
Market incentives and appropriate legislation are the tools for realizing these goals. Both can be used to register the scarcity of natural resources. In accordance with our belief in individual responsibility, we are in favor of fully exploring all options for voluntary cooperation before resorting to state regulations. But we will continue to need ecological legislation that includes prohibitions and recommendations, limits, requirements, and systems of approval if the direct threats to humankind and the environment are to be avoided. In order to harness the potential and the innovatory capabilities of industry for the good of the environment, we aim to make greater use of ecological elements in tax legislation, environmental levies, compensation schemes, and certification and liability regulations. By using market incentives to reward environmentally sensitive actions and attaching costs to environmental damage, we will be treading the path to ecologically realistic prices and strengthening individual initiative in protecting and preserving the environment.
We Christian Democrats advocate a new concept of prosperity and growth. An important component of prosperity is a healthy environment in which to live. Growth means much more than just an increase in goods and services. Our new understanding of the concept of growth incorporates the careful use of natural resources through the introduction of modern methods of production and the establishment of ecologically realistic prices for processes that damage the environment.