2017 is a crucial year for social Europe. After years of economic and social hardship, the gear is finally shifting. We, Socialists and Democrats, after a long fight with many others, could get social inequalities being put at the centre of EU policies. And we need to push further: making sure that our progressive proposals are turned into a concrete results that ensure decent living and working conditions for all European citizens.
Europe needs, more than ever, to ensure its commitments under the Treaties such as promoting the well-being of people, quality employment, social protection and cohesion, equality between women and men, protection of the rights of children and the development of quality education.
The deterioration of the quality of jobs all over Europe must stop. A major digital revolution may have brought a plethora of new possibilities but it has also created new and atypical forms of employment, where social rights and employment conditions are at stake. We need to ensure that all European citizens are offered a decent work contract and have access to social protection and can benefit from equal opportunities.
For our progressive political family, ensuring high social standards and upward convergence in Europe are key objectives. Our vision of Social Europe is a paradigm shift towards an alternative social model based on solidarity, integration, social justice, fair wages a fair wealth distribution, gender equality, a high-quality public services and education systems, quality employment and a sustainable growth model that ensures equality and social protection, empowers vulnerable groups, enhances participation and citizenship and improves the living standards of all citizens.
The S&D Group has been strongly demanding concrete initiatives to strengthen and update the European Social Model. We believe that the future of the Union will depend on how much Europeans are able to re-identify the European Union with the protection and the reinforcement of their labour and social rights, and, thereby, of their quality of life. The European Pillar of Social Rights has created the momentum for this to happen and we cannot miss this chance.
Although the Commission proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights is less ambitious than our progressive proposals, it brings an added value to the current acquis with upgrades in social standards for different target groups, such as workers, young people, people with disabilities or people in need of long term care. Very importantly, the Social Pillar highlights the need for equal treatment among workers irrespectively of what type of working contract they have.
We need to make sure that the Social Pillar is proclaimed but also that it is translated into concrete actions: a Social Action Plan combining legal, financial and governance means at EU level.
We European Socialists and Democrats and Progressives must engage in ensuring that social standards are respected and updated and that the European Union and Member States adopt and implement the different principles and pieces of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
“Putting social rights at the core of our Union” 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.
Populists are gaining consensus among Europe while social democratic electors are moving away from centre-left parties. One of the main reasons of this shift is that populist parties are responding to social problems and social insecurities in a way that is perceived as the only real alternative to current neoliberal predominant policies. Populists are (falsely) promising to citizens that they will be able to take back control of their lives if they will choose to live again in national, isolated and non-cooperative states. But that is not true. Europe need a different alternative, European citizens deserve a better alternative. This alternative must come from the European Socialists and Democrats because of our historical role and because those social insecurities need to be fought at the same level from which they come from (the supranational one). In order to do so, we need to boost the Social Pillar. An European Pillar of Social Rights should not mean a remedial to deterioment of jobs, nor a generous tip in the redistribution of wealth. No. An European Pillar of Social Rights should mean to create new jobs (especially for young people), to fight against inequalities in all their forms (between member states, between different workers and between genders) and to garantee to each citizen a good quality of life. Putting social rights at the core of our Union is not just a good fight: is a fight for the life of the Union itself. If citizens will feel that the EU is not defending them against the negative effects of globalisation, European nationalists will gain more and more consensus, and the European integration process will slow or even stop or regress. We can do it, together.
Allow me to link this comment to my personal experience, from where I live, considering modestly myself as a small, small entity of human capital that keeps my society alive.
I am a 22 year old from Albania, the European country in culture but who aspires to integrate in Europe politically and let me show you why the example of my country is also valuable for EU member states.
We are fighting a lot to adapt our legislation to what the EU requires, to get positive assessment marks from EC reports, to reform institutions, etc, but often, change does not has to do with any adaptation of legislation, rather than changing the state of human capital.
How can this condition change? By “exploiting” it positively, considering it a unit that is able to produce change. But to produce should be handled with care. I think that the process of handling human capital is of great importance since the genesis, when the collective structure, the society, the state, the government understands, identifies, a potential capital, which can be even a single individual, a group of young people, even whole people. It is like the work of a talented child in mathematics, which stands out from the teacher in the classroom. If the teacher does not care, does not motivate, do not train, challenge, his talent, that capital, that talent, will lose.
I think many European countries, including Albania, are lucky, too fortunate to be populated by an unimaginable youth capital, but often bad-managed. And here I want to focus on my comment: In treating youth as a capital that if we help it to change its present, it can become the capital of the continent’s future.
Why am I starting out of youth as the most vital part of human capital? Do we want better professionals? How will we find it, if we do not create the conditions for uninitiated young people to invest in the future? Do we want a more skilled workforce? How will we find it, if we do not invest in enforcing the professional education, prioritizing professional programs in such schools, connecting schools and business to practice? Albania has done very positive steps on this direction. Sewing and supporting the dreams of young people 18 years old, can lead us to the product we want: a human capital more efficient for our societies in the future.
There is a point where I want to focus and for which I argue that social Europe should be dedicated; Providing students the opportunity to paid professional practice as a form that not only motivates them to stay in the labor market, invest there, to afford living expenses, but also establish decent relationships with employers who often use youth capital, their need to gain experience. They use them as practitioners, eternally interns, shifting the rotation of practitioners who they never pay.
Albania is the typical country of this, I’m the young man of this. I have completed studies in Journalism and Communication Sciences. More than two years ago, I invested energy in internships, which in a few cases returned to a job where I often received a minimum salary, or a salary for three months, or I received the answer “you have to learn yet”. But we have also positive example. Our government initiated a national programme on internships in public administration. The best interns, with the highest performance get a contract of job for a year.
Europe should work to build and strengthen an institutionalized relations between universities, faculties and labor market actors, whether private or national, for the transition of young people from school auditors to paid professional practices.
The institutionalization of such a relationship is a cog in the process of how we treat the human capital of our society. But be careful! It is about the most vital part of our countries, because who today is known as a journalism practitioner, if properly treated and motivated, with dignity and respect for his contribution, may be tomorrow a leader of public opinion, who today is treated as a law practitioner who does not receive a salary, may be tomorrow the judge who can cleanse the country from corrupt prosecutors. As a young social democrat, I have been part of many round tables in the region of Balkan and not only, where I have seen this necessity among youth, for a regular and arranged relation with the labour market.
If the consolidation of labor markets, where dominates equality in relation to the employer, is a factor for the European social pillar and if the empowerment of skilled workers is the supplier of this pillar, then in both of them we must start by taking care for human capital dignity.
How can we make the workforce more resilient to globalization? By pre-preparing it, supporting it in the genesis of her qualification to be a workforce or an intellectual. By giving equal opportunities to challenge oneself, move to the space of their chances by knowing that there is a pillar where it can support the head and where its energies are not allowed to go wrong and wasted: the EU with its mechanisms.
It’s so simple: If we invest today in youth we have invested for tomorrow’s continent.
This is basically the right meaning of putting the social rights at the core of our union: Taking care of the present of our future. If we do not do this, the social pillar that we seek to build will stay there, it will exist, but without the spinal cord (youth energy) that will lose itself in an undefined destiny. Consequently, the body of this pillar (our societies) will soon be plucked from the damaged capital…
This reply was modified 1 year ago by Alteo Hysi. Reason: New ideas