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TOGETHER Draft Declaration on the Future of Europe

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The European Union and Africa have an important and unique partnership, which is at a crossroads. The EU remains the main partner of Africa, but it is no longer the only one. So does Africa still need Europe? We continue to believe the deep, comprehensive and holistic relationship is a vital long-term foundation for political dialogue and progress in both continents.
Investing in young people. The demographic boom in Africa will be an opportunity for the continent rather than a challenge, if we support investment in education. The challenges of the future will only be met if we equip the next generations with the necessary tools, on which an “EU-Africa Erasmus program” can be of great impact, encouraging exchanges between European and African young students, researchers, teachers and entrepreneurs.
Sustainable investments. The S&D Group strongly supports the EU External Investment Plan for Africa (and European neighbourhood) with the aim of improving economic and social development and achieving the SDGs on the African continent. But rather than underpin multinationals which are already champions of tax evasion, or the ones which prey on mineral and natural resources, the EIP must provide support to SMEs, microfinance and job creation programs, especially for young people and women.
Coherent Partnerships for development to address the root causes of irregular migration. Irregular migration is a global phenomenon requiring a coordinated international response and the EU must take a human-rights-based lead in shaping it. We support a strong partnership between Europe and Africa and the efforts in the United Nations to tackle the root causes of migration in terms of improving the economic and social situation, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and providing education and employment opportunities in countries of transit and origin. We remain strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, also by improving development cooperation, conflict resolution, and stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth to ensure that people have a real chance of a better life in their homeland. But we also need to ensure we implement Policy Coherence for Development across our agricultural, trade and investment policies, from the Common Agricultural Policy to binding due diligence requirements for EU companies. The security-development nexus remains important for addressing conflict, but poverty-alleviation must remain the primary goal of development assistance. We will never accept aid conditionality linked to migration policy.
Strengthen democracy and human rights. Human rights remain central to our partnership with Africa. We urge the EEAS and Commission to use all available tools to maintain serious human rights dialogues. We will seek innovative mechanisms to give support and visibility to those risking their lives in Africa for the defence of human rights, democracy, social justice, equality and non-discrimination. We reiterate our belief that independent NGOs, media and cultural space are a pre-requisite of a functioning democracy and rule of law.
Gender equality. Without the emancipation of women there is no viability for sustainable development, nor full democracy, nor good governance. Gender equality must be mainstreamed in all EU policies, initiatives and investments towards Africa.
“Does Africa need Europe?” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. But the debate goes on. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in add your thoughts to this topic.

With the onset of the economic crisis since 2008, a new term, the working poor, has emerged at European level. This new “class” features a portion of the population that, although working, is paid below the relative poverty line. The working poor is closer to the European poverty indicator, the relative poverty which is assessed at an income below 60% of the national average national. One of the main reasons for the growth of this phenomenon was the sharp increase in unemployment, the rise in part-time working and austerity measures as a repercussion of the economic recession. The working poor issue requires more attention not only for the amelioration of living standards but also for the fight against social exclusion which is one of the biggest threats posed by poverty. The following graph from Eurostat depicts with clarity the problem of working poor in the European Union, with the countries of the Balkans and South Europe showing the biggest percentage.For this reason EU should devise effective measures and tailor-made policies to erase the issue of working poor in its member states and meet their needs. EU should undertake policies and initiatives to tackle the phenomenon of working poor Within this context, EU has set the target, through the Europe 2020 Strategy, of reducing the numbers of poor people by 20m, paying particular attention to employment, education and training. Both the European Social Fund and the European Strategic Investment Fund seek to create new jobs and reintegrate young people into either education or training programs. However, in order to improve the standard of living of that section of the population that while working is on the poverty line and cannot fulfill its basic daily needs and activities, these tailor-made measures and initiatives could include some of the following: Digital skills are crucial for employees Since one of the variables affecting working poor is education, more emphasis should be given to improving the educational attainment of the working poor. Education plays a fundamental role in the fight against social exclusion. For this reason, access to lifelong learning and vocational education programs according to the needs of the labour market, with emphasis on digital skills, will enhance the skills of employees to adapt to more and different working environments. It should be mentioned that estimates show that around 40% of people in the EU workforce do not have adequate digital skills; 14% have no digital skills at all. Given that the digital economy will dominate in the upcoming years, those skills are crucial for the employees. European Social Rights Pillar Furthermore, strengthening the welfare state with the guarantee of a living wage, access to healthcare, better working conditions, social benefits and the protection of part-time, temporary, precarious and undeclared workers should be a priority. The EU, through the European Social Rights Pillar, aims to build a fairer and more socially inclusive EU. The three main categories are: equal opportunities and access to employment, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. Under this framework, the fight against the phenomenon of working poor should be driven institutionally. Sustainable Development Goal 8 The EU should also act in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal 8: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. Within this framework, the EU should boost investments in areas that could assist growth, depending on the specific needs of each individual country but based on the above-mentioned employment criteria. Single-earning households Another great issue is single parents or families with children and one employee in the household that are at risk of poverty. In these cases a proper work-life balance plan is needed (including childcare services) to facilitate access to work for these parents. In some cases, the lack of childcare services reduces the job-seeking opportunities or the full working day of single parents, and increasing the risk of poverty for them. Consequently, it may be inferred that job creation is not the only pathway to tackle and reduce the poverty or unemployment rate as the sheer scale of the working poor indicates that a series of measures and policies are still needed to ensure quality, stable and decent work. In order to reduce social exclusion and improve the standard of living of working poor, urgent measures and tailor-made policies should be taken by EU both at institutional and individual level.

4 days, 17 hours ago in Social Europe
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With the onset of the economic crisis since 2008, a new term, the working poor, has emerged at European level. This new “class” features a portion of the population that, although working, is paid below the relative poverty line. The working poor is closer to the European poverty indicator, the relative poverty which is assessed at an income below 60% of the national average national. One of the main reasons for the growth of this phenomenon was the sharp increase in unemployment, the rise in part-time working and austerity measures as a repercussion of the economic recession. The working poor issue requires more attention not only for the amelioration of living standards but also for the fight against social exclusion which is one of the biggest threats posed by poverty. The problem of working poor in the European Union is crucial with the countries of the Balkans and South Europe showing the biggest percentage:For this reason EU should devise effective measures and tailor-made policies to erase the issue of working poor in its member states and meet their needs. EU should undertake policies and initiatives to tackle the phenomenon of working poor Within this context, EU has set the target, through the Europe 2020 Strategy, of reducing the numbers of poor people by 20m, paying particular attention to employment, education and training. Both the European Social Fund and the European Strategic Investment Fund seek to create new jobs and reintegrate young people into either education or training programs. However, in order to improve the standard of living of that section of the population that while working is on the poverty line and cannot fulfill its basic daily needs and activities, these tailor-made measures and initiatives could include some of the following: Digital skills are crucial for employees Since one of the variables affecting working poor is education, more emphasis should be given to improving the educational attainment of the working poor. Education plays a fundamental role in the fight against social exclusion. For this reason, access to lifelong learning and vocational education programs according to the needs of the labour market, with emphasis on digital skills, will enhance the skills of employees to adapt to more and different working environments. It should be mentioned that estimates show that around 40% of people in the EU workforce do not have adequate digital skills; 14% have no digital skills at all. Given that the digital economy will dominate in the upcoming years, those skills are crucial for the employees. European Social Rights Pillar Furthermore, strengthening the welfare state with the guarantee of a living wage, access to healthcare, better working conditions, social benefits and the protection of part-time, temporary, precarious and undeclared workers should be a priority. The EU, through the European Social Rights Pillar, aims to build a fairer and more socially inclusive EU. The three main categories are: equal opportunities and access to employment, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. Under this framework, the fight against the phenomenon of working poor should be driven institutionally. Sustainable Development Goal 8 The EU should also act in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal 8: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. Within this framework, the EU should boost investments in areas that could assist growth, depending on the specific needs of each individual country but based on the above-mentioned employment criteria. Single-earning households Another great issue is single parents or families with children and one employee in the household that are at risk of poverty. In these cases a proper work-life balance plan is needed (including childcare services) to facilitate access to work for these parents. In some cases, the lack of childcare services reduces the job-seeking opportunities or the full working day of single parents, and increasing the risk of poverty for them. Consequently, it may be inferred that job creation is not the only pathway to tackle and reduce the poverty or unemployment rate as the sheer scale of the working poor indicates that a series of measures and policies are still needed to ensure quality, stable and decent work. In order to reduce social exclusion and improve the standard of living of working poor, urgent measures and tailor-made policies should be taken by EU both at institutional and individual level.

4 days, 17 hours ago in What does Democracy mean to you?
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