Unfair right-wing politics have focused for too long on the interests of the super-rich and the big corporations. Faced with falling living standards, growing job insecurity and shrinking public services, people across Europe are under increasing strain. Europe is a very rich continent, but that means little when many people do not benefit from that wealth. These are not just words: The number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion stands at an incredible 118 million persons or 23,5% of the EU population. Almost 25 million children are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Child poverty means going to school on an empty stomach, feeling stressed because parents cannot pay the rent and spending winter months in cold homes.
While the rich get richer, the number of workers with fixed-term and part-time contracts, often involuntary, has increased over the past 15 years. Labour rights have been curtailed and uncertainty has increased through new forms of employment, precarious work agreements and employment contracts where the number of working hours is not specified. For many there is little way of social protection and little or no prospect of advancement in the labour market. In these instances, work does not provide people with neither security nor fulfilment. There is a growing sense of anxiety and disillusionment as many feel they are asked to do more while being paid less.
We need strong and unwavering commitment at EU, member state and local level to change these injustices. More fairness means a happier, healthier, and more successful population. Nobody should be left behind. Europe must have a core that looks after its workers, its children, its youth and the most vulnerable. We need to work harder to improve the social conditions of the many against the greed of the few. For a future where every child in Europe has an equal opportunity to grow and prosper. Where all people living in Europe can thrive regardless of ethnic background and free of all forms of discrimination.
So let’s build a fairer Europe where everybody is able to get on in life with security at work, to be decently paid for the work we do, and to live our lives with the dignity we all deserve. Let’s give everyone the best chance to succeed and contribute to society. Together we can shape a Europe that is inclusive, open, just, sustainable and that works for the many and not just for the privileged few, putting solidarity into practice. Together we stand for:
To deliver on all these fronts, we need a strong Europe equipped with effective financial instruments accessible to regional and local authorities. The European Social Fund remains an essential tool for promoting social justice and as such, it needs to be endowed with an ambitious budget.
We are determined to deliver a fairer, solidary and cohesive society, where the many can grow and prosper together!