#SeparatedbutUnited - hope of a better future
As the world starts to look towards the social and economic recovery following the global coronavirus pandemic, the lives, rights and wellbeing of a whole generation of young people depends on what comes next. This series of short blog posts on how we build a better future are all written by the Board Members of the European Youth Forum.
How COVID-19 is exposing the failures of the welfare state towards young people
Written by Frédéric Piccavet
How has the Great Lockdown, as this coronavirus recession has been named, affected your life? Chances are that you had moments where you felt stressed out, anxious and lonely, worried about the impact the crisis would have on your income - or perhaps you were preoccupied by the long term political fallout.
In moments of crises like these, the singular most important thing is the knowledge that we can count on one another and act in solidarity. For me, solidarity is to contribute according to your ability and to receive according to your needs. That’s exactly what the welfare state is all about: the equitable distribution of wealth, equal opportunity and individual responsibility. In other words, organised solidarity.
However, decades of organised austerity, exacerbated during the last economic recession, have stripped our welfare states bare – at the expense of the most vulnerable, like young people, who have been left without recourse.
This organised dismantling of the welfare state is the core reason young people all across Europe have been pushed into temporary work, precarious or zero-hour contracts or even life without a job, without access to social protection. Where solidarity is gone, individualism reigns, to the detriment of the most vulnerable.
Let this Great Lockdown, therefore, be an opportunity to rebuild our welfare state, from a rights-based approach and keeping in mind sustainability in all its facets. We can do this, firstly, by making sure that protection and security are inalienable rights for all young people. In today’s Europe, there are still too many age-based restrictions that make social protection inaccessible for a lot of young people. Let’s stop that practice. Second, let us reform our welfare systems to more adaptable and flexible institutions, regulating new forms of work more quickly as they develop. Thirdly, let’s think about the way we can stop defunding our very much needed organised solidarity and instead redistribute the huge amounts of profit tech companies have made, before and during this crisis. After costing governments around the world $500 billion every single year, it’s time we all paid our fair share.
The time to rebuild is now.
Frédéric Piccavet is the Board Member, responsible for the Social and Economic portfolio of the European Youth Forum