Social Europe

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Too many people across Europe are dissatisfied and disillusioned with the European Union and feel disempowered and left behind by its institutions and policies. A right-wing dominated EU has focused for too long on the interests of the elite, the super-rich and the big corporations. This has put the European project at risk.  Europeans are struggling with decreasing living standards, declining purchasing power and the rise of precarious work, and are suffering hardships created by austerity policies, anxiety over people arriving to our shores and the impacts of climate change and environmental destruction.

 We must work together and stand as one to face up to the global risks and challenges such as inequalities, an ageing population, climate change, migration and digitalization. Together, we can shape a Europe that is inclusive, open, just, sustainable and that works for the many and not just for the few.

A decisive change and transformation in political will, direction and policy are urgent. We, the progressives, are committed to make this change happen. Europe must have a heart that looks after its workers, its children, its youth, its elderly, the most vulnerable ones and all those who lack opportunities in life. Dignity and living wages for workers, quality education and a future for the youth, equal treatment for women and men, the protection of children, quality care and a decent retirement for the elderly, opportunities for those discriminated and inclusivity for those excluded. These must be the priorities of the European project.

The S&D Group strongly demands a concrete social agenda to strengthen the European Social Model.

·         We reiterate our call for a Social Protocol to be annexed to the Treaties to ensure that fundamental social rights take precedence over economic freedoms. The European Pillar of Social Rights has created the momentum for this to happen and we cannot afford to miss this chance. But we need to make sure that the Pillar is translated into concrete legislative instruments and economic, fiscal and investment measures that reduce inequalities and ensure a fair distribution of wealth and profits.

·         The deterioration of the quality of jobs all over Europe is unsustainable. Living wages, social protection, job security, education, occupational health and safety, dignity and empowerment as well as an adequate balance between work and private life must be ensured for all workers. In this context, we insist in our call for a directive on decent working conditions in all forms of employment and for wages that enable workers to meet their needs and those of their families. Every worker in the European Union should receive a living wage that not only provides for the mere necessities of basic food, shelter and clothing, but that is also sufficient to cover healthcare, education, transportation, recreation and some savings.

·         A solid social Union will emerge only with the existence of strong trade unions, the participation of employees in company matters and a strengthening of collective agreements, as well as dialogue with the actors of the social economy. The quality of social dialogue must be boosted at all levels and action is needed to ensure the respect and the promotion of unionization and collective bargaining across the Union.

·         In many Member States, social security and social protection systems have been severely undermined by austerity measures. High quality welfare systems and public services as well as social investments are extremely important if Europe wants to remain both fair and competitive. A social protection floor for all European citizens must be established. Universal access to public, solidarity-based pension systems, quality health care systems and minimum income schemes must also be granted to all. In order to protect mobile workers, a European social security number has to be established without delay to facilitate information exchange between national authorities, in order to provide people with a record of their entitlements and to prevent abuse;

·         We are strongly committed to fighting all forms of discrimination and to defending fundamental rights for everyone. We need to close the gaps that affect women on employment and pay.

·         As a result of the crisis and budget cuts on education, many young people suffer difficulties in accessing high quality education and in entering the labour market. Free access to quality public education, including tertiary education, is an important element in overcoming social inequalities and increasing the sustainability of economic and social systems. Internships should not be used as a replacement for jobs and interns should not be used as a cheap (or even unpaid) labour force.  Therefore, decent minimum working conditions and proper remuneration must be ensured for interns and apprentices and unpaid internships must be prohibited.

·         Fair, socially sustainable work and real employee participation in shaping working conditions are more important than ever in digital platforms and in any other sector. Workers must have democratic influence over the governance of work. The benefits of digitalization must be shared broadly and equitably and workers in the digital sector must enjoy the same rights and working conditions as those in other sectors. The EU must ensure that platform businesses comply with national and European legislation, clarify the employment status of platform-based workers and protect their working conditions as well as their right to organize and negotiate collective agreements;

·         We need urgent and more decisive action to fight poverty. Therefore, the S&D Group will continue calling for a European Child Guarantee to ensure that every child at risk of poverty will have access to free health care, free education, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition.

·         The right to a free movement of citizens and workers is a core European value and a fundamental right of European citizens. It is also a pillar of the success of the Union’s single market. We are firmly committed to fight discrimination and the exploitation of workers as well as social dumping, such those who are posted. The principle of equal treatment for both intra-EU mobile workers and third-country nationals is fundamental in order to ensure both the non-discrimination and the integration of migrant workers, as well as fair competition. We expect the Commission to finally answer our call for a European Labour Authority to combat social dumping and the exploitation and abuse of workers, with powers to carry out controls and impose sanctions and penalties on non-compliant companies.

We actively engage with citizens of all ages and social backgrounds to understand and better respond to people’s concerns and propose a new, progressive vision of Europe. We, the European Socialists and Democrats will continue to represent the interests of the people and to fight for strong social standards in the EU.


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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 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.

1 month ago in Social Europe

The frontier between personal and professional life is getting blurry. The time we dedicate to work as well as where we work are getting confused. You might not be always working, you might be working intensively for a few months in a year, you might work for 10 years in your life. Paths of life are now far from unique. We cannot disregard the fact that flexibility is crucial to our modern world; wether it is forced or chosen for better or worse this flexibility became for many of us a way of life. For some it creates de facto a fluctuent and unreliable income, which is everyday’s headache as soon as you are looking for a flat, paying your taxes or social contributions. For others it encourages to choose a path “risk free”, following the safer path of life, out of fear. At the same time many activities essential to a functioning society are not gratified by any remuneration. When we invest time to take care of our community, your social contribution needs to be rewarded. I’m not contending there should be a remuneration there, but that we should, as social democrats recognise the social contribution made. That is why I believe that as progressives we should provide “law” to this new reality. It is important to adapt to this urge for flexibility in a part of the society but should not get abused by people confusing flexibility with legal insecurity; communities need legal safety to flourish and show their full potential. Legislations favouring involvement at the European level, with the definitive aim to provide for a minimum wage and an European Universal Income coupled with the recognition of harmonised rights; all are not just about fairness, it will simplify life of businesses and administrations all across the EU, by making sure that one internal market really means one.

1 month, 1 week ago in Social Europe

We can progress with change, and only if we change our minds we can make a Social Europe. However, we can do that only if we are able to answer the how question. The Gothenburg Statement on Social Europe has answered to the what and the why questions, but we still need to answer to the most important one: How? How do we do a Social Europe? So far as a group we have not been able to speak and listen to ordinary people. The plan is great! But the structure is not easy to be understood in the whole EU. As Max Weber said: “Politics is made with the head, not with other parts of the body or soul”… but on the Brussels leg of Europe Together, on 19 October, the Mayor of Charleroi, Mr Paul Magnette said: “We [socialists and democrats] lost the elections but we have a soul.” Soul is not enough as Weber teaches us. We need a strong and smart head. We need to be able to talk to those in difficulties, to those that are not able to understand the complexities of the European Institutions and its policy making procedures. Therefore, we should question ourselves: Are we able to give voice to the voiceless? Those of us that participate in these events are lucky enough to have opportunities, but are we able to speak to unemployed people that struggle everyday for a piece of bread and to feed their children? Are we able to guarantee that the future of Europe is with a stronger European Union? If we show the way forward, if we explain how to achieve a Social Europe, then we will able to face the far-right populism, unfortunately in the rise in the whole EU. We need to go in the field, we need to be with the people, we need to ask them about their daily struggles and problems. We need to address the challenges of ordinary European citizens. This is the way forward for a Social Europe!

1 year ago in Social Europe

Social Europe would mean to achieve an common behavior and goal setting for all European citizens and future citizens. Which still means that we need to highlight and retain every countries individualistic charisma. It is very important to maintain this line between each countries own politics and European politics. It is healthy to keep an direct political decisions between the citizens and its own country in first place. Gradually in order to keep up with this pace of globalization we have to increase the Eu-politics direct affection and other influences. By working together and bringing up these big guidelines for countries and their municipalities, and most importantly guidelines that works in rural areas an not only the capitals and other big cities. Rather having personal growth as a goal rather than a growing wallet. Social Europe means to include everyone, and mostly to focus on those who are in need, and to bring up countries that really needs everyone’s collaboration in order to survive, without leaving successful areas unheard. It is all about finding the balance between benefits, greed, solidarity and generosity. Social Europe means putting together a big force and stand against China, USA and Russia mostly. Not to fight, or negotiate at our own benefits, but to show them how we want to live on this earth, in peace, as we teach our children. Social Europe is about representation. We should work close to media and to not let it be owed by the elite, people should have the right to hear the truth, and we have to work actively against any kind of corruption from the top of the hierarchy. It should be about representation inside of every governing body in our nations. It is about free trade and the expansion of Schengen areas in Europe. We should aim to make every country in Europe attractive and affordable to our citizens, it should not be a class question if you have the opportinuty to free education nor healthcare, we have to achieve this as an human right. Because right now, we are loosing so much creativity and possibilities as human beings living on this earth, the lack of free education and healthcare for example is a big treath and should be a priority in Europe. Social Europe should be more about the interests of the majority and not the minority. I am talking about the elite, creating this twenty four hour consumption society, setting our standards as workers, making us suffer. Making us consume as if we had unlimited resources, as if the ozone-layer do not need our support, as if our beautiful seas need more plastic in it, as if we lived in a planet we do not care about. Sustainable energy is definitely my field, and let me keep this short. To make Europe function in a way more sustainable way is close, and the truth is, we have all of the technology and knowledge that is needed. But we are not working active enough and I will not be the one telling our polar bear-fellows that their land are melting away in our greed and egoism. We have to put pressure on these big companies and manufacturers, who produces all of these plastic bags, pet-bottles, cars, foods, clothes and everything we can touch, eat or use. This is not an okay behavior, and EU need to take the power to at least ban these products that we use everyday, that is killing our ozone and our bodies and to control what we eat. Stop making it beneficial for the elite to go around these circumstances, this earth is as much as mine as theirs, and we should protect what we value as human beings in this earth. Honestly, if you want to know the truth I am tired of these discussions back and forth, issues regarding poverty, segregation, gender equality, unemployment, prostitution and sextrades, healthcare, education, war and so on.. Most of it comes down to behaviors, and how to change these standard and traditional way of thinking and acting, and to allow the modern reality to kick in. As my friend said: “Politicians are talking about integration, reduction of unemployment and criminality. But are shadowing the facts that segregation is a product of racism, and the ignorance of structurally building these apartments so tall, that it looks like they will fall down from the sky anytime. Putting people of color in all different kind of cages and expecting them to apply for jobs, where the employer only reads your foreign name on the application and then skips it. And now we are putting the demands on these same citizens, and also asking why hatred and racist parties have been growing?” And then you all ask why it is a big amount if people who are not voting in the EU-elections and national election in our own countries. You do not care enough for “everyday people”. Even myself, and those who represent justice and equality, have not enough experience of it, we are mostly wealthier people compared to the average, with mostly privileged backgrounds. Meaning, a lot of people are unheard. And we can not represent their voices without giving them the ability to speak. I can go on all day, but to keep it short. Europe should not be afraid of change or the youth, let the innovative minds create magic. We need to change our behavior and to not hide our real problems under our own feet. We have big challenges in Europe and we need to face them, then aim for bigger projects. And to set standards for the other continents to get inspired and eventually collaborate as a big force for once. Patience is not only the key, we have to know how to solve these issues in order to open the borders with the key. I hope my message was reached. I would love to come and discuss more about my concerns! Sincerely, A 20-year young but old firefighter named Kimiya Espahbodi, from Stockholm Sweden.

1 year ago in Social Europe

In the winter of 431 BC, Pericles in Ancient Athens, gave a funeral oration to honor Athenians who fought with their lives against Sparta. This act was nothing more than a tribute to people who fought for the prevalence of a democracy, the world’s oldest one, and a progressive social system, as opposed to authoritarian Sparta. Today, different fights for more progressive systems have come back to the foreground as social rights – especially the welfare state – are confined inside economies that are struggling more anfd more for competitiveness. For me, personally, the top issues of a Social Europe are: – Labor relations – in particular, the unpaid internships for young people – is something that gives a breath to business but it shows to young people a union that does not reflect the values ​​of solidarity. The recent campaign of S&D was the beginning, but much more regarding a coordinated policy action is needed. In the end, it is the best fight against populism by protecting the workers’ rights. – Τhe deterioration of the welfare state in the countries most affected by the crisis. Progressive Europe can not respond with coupons and programs for the unemployed people. There is a serious need for a solid social protection framework and at the same time more attention should be given to Europe’s working poor. – Youth issues, equal and quality of information and mobility opportunities often do not help to reduce gaps but end up as free opportunities without any quality results. If we want to invest in a united Europe, we must produce this idea among all young people. In conclusion, I sincerely believe that social democracy is the key to deepening democracy in Europe. But this has to be done within a dynamic framework that will allow especially bottom-up initiatives and will create a positive result of a common European identity, especially within small societies.

1 year ago in Social Europe

It’s a cliché, yes, but the most important thing the Europe must do is bring people closer to each other. Democracy is based on the idea that everyone has a vote, yet it really doesn’t seem that everyone’s voice is heard. This isn’t something that can be changed easily. Most of the people live their busy lives with barely any time to think about politics or what is happening outside or town, let alone country. The little information we get is from evening news and online headlines that are mostly wrapped in sensationalism and are presented in a dramatic way, pitching people, companies and governments against each other to make the story more intriguing and interesting. I’m our minds, the world becomes a hostile place and we assume the appropriate attitude towards anything outside our trusted, comfort zone. Yet we should not thrive to be hostile. We are at the point in humanity’s development where we need to realise that hostility can’t bring us any good. People need to become aware that their well being and well being of their descendants directly depends on the well being of someone on the other side of the world. Peace is the only way forward. But how to accomplish this? With technology allowing for instant communication between us and any place in the world we really should be using it much more. While Erasmus is a great way to get university students exposed to different cultures, we can do more. We could be exposing much younger students by connecting two classes from different countries from the start of their education and have them communicate via video conference on a regular basis with an adaptive and planned programe. 1st class students could be singing each other their countries popular children’s songs with teachers translating/explaining. They could be sending each other drawings of other town’s landmarks. Older students could be teaching each other some words in their languages. They could be congratulating each other holidays, even if it isn’t a holiday in their own country. The idea is to have the same class communicate during extended period of time, as long as possible and get them to make friends from across the continent even tho in most cases they can’t understand each other. This will facilitate precious cultural exchange and make younger generations aware that other country is not some imaginary land from from movies but an actual place with people that are just like them. The classes could even visit each other once! In general we need more examples of unity and working together to achieve something that benefits all. These stories should be promoted and people and companies that are working on projects with partners across the borders need to be rewarded Sharing of ideas and philosophies and putting them together always brings extraordinary results. People need more than phrases and political participation, they need to feel united! The only way for progressiveness to win is to make us care about someone far away. In that case not everything needs to benefit us directly, when we care about someone far away we will still be satisfied if they benefited from a new policy or a change.

1 year ago in Social Europe

The Tallinn Statement on a Social Europe

To achieve high quality of life and ensure upward social convergence, we must:

• Assure decent working conditions in all forms of employment, guaranteeing every worker access to a core set of labour and social rights, which follow the principle of equal pay for equal work.

• Close the gender pay gap by 2% per year assuring equal treatment and non-discrimination throughout our Union. In addition, particular target measures are needed like quotas for women on company boards at European level. Companies to introduce multi-aged working teams.

• Establish a European Child Guarantee, which ensures that every child has access to free healthcare, free education, free childcare, decent housing and proper nutrition.

• Ensure the respect and the promotion of collective bargaining so that it reaches as many workers as possible across our Union.

• Assure the reconciliation of personal and work life.

• Fight income inequality, unemployment with a special focus on young people who are neither in employment nor education.

• Substantially scale up the funding of the EU Youth Guarantee to create better and better jobs.

• New key-factor like health must be better included in policy making, including occupational health.

• Prepare for a Social Progress Protocol to be incorporate in the Treaties, when possible, to change the overall balance between economic freedom and fundamentals social rights.

• Create a specific Social Fund for capacity building, in particular for Social Partners in Member States, where needed.

• Deliver a European Pillar of Social Rights to cope with the new trends in the labour market, guaranteeing decent working conditions and access to social protection.

To cope with demographic challenges and the impact of a growing digital economy, we must:

• Develop new ways to guarantee workers’ rights and representation, decent working conditions, fair competition and social protection in the “fourth industrial revolution”.

• Organise the portability of workers’ rights as they move around in the European digital labour market.

• Extend collective agreements to individuals engaged in new digital forms of work.

• Mitigate the risk of brain drain by investing in measures supporting circular migration, and ensuring mobility is not the result of inadequate employment opportunities or social protections.

• Invest in active ageing and enable people reaching pensionable age to have the option to continue working while being able to draw partially on their pension if they work less than full-time.

• Investing in equitable and quality education for all and everywhere in Europe must be an absolute top priority.

To ensure sustainable financing of social policies, we must:

• Provide public support for developing sectors with important employment potential.

• Combat tax evasion to ensure adequate level of public funds.

• Broaden the financial base of welfare systems by shifting towards new sources of tax revenue.

• Establish quality benchmarks for national unemployment insurance schemes.

• Enable the public employment service to have adequate capacity for direct contact with business.

• The EU must do more to unlock the potential of the Social Economy.

• Invest in green technology and in the environment.

• We need a sustainable EU Budget where all Member States should contribute a fair share.

• Link the financial economy to the real economy through the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax.

• Close tax loopholes in the 28 Member States and introduce a EU-wide Minimum Effective Corporate Tax Rate.

• To test the possibility to the introduction of a basic income scheme in the EU.

• Fight undeclared work!

Information, participation and civic dialogue about social rights is very important!

*** This is the statement approved and adopted at the TOGETHER event in Tallinn, Estonia on May 12, 2017. But the debate goes on! Share your ideas on how to build a Social Europe that benefits all.

1 year ago in Social Europe

I am a male swedish highscool teacher, 35years of age, diagnosed with asperger’s syndrome and adhd as an adult. Since I has chose to be open about my diagnosis to reduce predujice and sometimes get support from society I have been subjected to discrimination numerous times from among others: Swedish authorities, Swedish schools and Swedish counties. The treatment of people with these conditions is a true modern human rights disaster! On the 1st of may 2017 for the first time In my life, I therefore chose to march with a sign saying “equal rights despite ADHD, Asperger’s” to press the importance of these issues! I marched together with my dear comrades in the beautiful and sunny city of Borås in Sweden! Shortly after the march, I showed papers from Swedish Social Security Authorities denying me a disability equal to 25% reduction of full time working ability. Authorities mock me for having Asperger’s syndrome and consider that the right job for me would be something within my areas of interests, where I have little or no contact with people, and all days are predictable and free of stress! Please let met get back to this pressing and very important issue once again when I have time! By this post I hope to inspire other young social democats around in Europe to work for human rights for people who have conditions like Asperger’s, ADHD and so son. I also hope to inspire other grassroot politicians like me who also might have neuropsyhicatric conditions like ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, Dyslexia, Tourettes syndrome and so on to come foward and help in the struggle for equal rights! Regards Rikard Grossman-Nielsen

1 year, 5 months ago in Social Europe

Take decisive action to reduce alcohol related harm across the European Union Reason for amendment: Harms related to high levels of alcohol use are a heavy burden on public health, social welfare and economic productivity in the European Union. Europe is the heaviest alcohol consuming region in the world. High levels of alcohol consumtion inhibits upwards social convergence between European regions and EU member states and has significant negative effects on the quality of life in the EU. For example: • Between 5 and 9 million children in the EU live in families where alcohol is abused. • Alcohol is the third biggest cause of preventable death and disease in Europe, and is a risk factor for over 60 chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and liver disease. It is also linked to obesity. Alcohol is the leading risk factor for ill-health and premature death for those aged 25 to 59, the core of Europe’s working age population. • The financial costs of alcohol-related harm are colossal – up to €155.8 billion a year, according to figures used by the European Commission • 60% of EU citizens surveyed in the RARHA SEAS study reported being harmed due to others’ drinking in the past 12 months. 20% reported serious harm such as being harmed physically, getting in a serious argument, being driven by a drunken driver or being involved in a traffic accident related to drunk driving. • There are large differences between EU member states when it comes to alcohol related harm. For example, reported serious harm was over 40% in Lithuania and around 10% in Sweden, Austria and Hungary. Example of concrete actions that can be taken: • Renewed EU alcohol strategy • Higher EU minimum excise duties on alcoholic beverages • Ban on alcohol commercials during hours of peak television viewing by minors • Stronger action on drink driving throughout the EU • Lower the levels of alcohol that can be transported between member states by private individuals without paying excise duty in the country of entry • Ensure that alcoholic beverages are not exempted from nutritional or content labelling

1 year, 6 months ago in Social Europe
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