European Pillar of Social Rights Conference shows promising focus on young people’s concerns.
January 25, 2017
Representatives from EU institutions, Ministers from Member States, and civil society representatives gathered at the European Commission on 23 January to discuss the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Pillar aims to address the realities of a changing European society, while helping member states to support citizens in this time of development.
The European Youth Forum and representatives from member youth organisations were active in discussions with policy makers. They stressed that tackling poverty and ensuring fair working conditions and access to social protection are crucial for Europe’s youth, now. Youth Forum Board Member Zuzana Vaneckova highlighted that today’s welfare systems are not up to date with current work trends. Precarious work as well as new kinds of work such as the platform economy mean that young people are totally cut off from social protection – increasing their risk of being in poverty and social exclusion. As discussed in the workshop on the Future of Work, the fact that new business models and technology are developing fast, is not an excuse – legislation must be adapted, and abuses must be called out, to ensure the individual is protected throughout their lives.
Youth representatives and policy-makers highlighted the systemic discrimination that young people face in the labour market. Discrimination is also present in accessing other social services, such as health and housing – which means young people are further from becoming autonomous and independent. These issues must be tackled by the European Pillar of Social Rights to ensure an equal and inclusive society for all.
The European Youth Forum is pleased with the focus on young people during the discussions. The voice of civil society organisations was however, lacking, so we hope that the European Commission and Member States will engage further with civil society, as well as social partners, in the process. We are happy to hear the announcement of a Social Summit in November, and are ready to cooperate on this, and on the next steps of the Social Rights Pillar to empower and enable all young people to have access to their social rights.
For the Youth Forum Position on the European Pillar of Social Rights, please see here.