Social fairness for young people: A right or a recommendation?

14. 03. 2018

Precarious jobs, unregulated internships, lack of social protection. Just some of the current realities and challenges faced by young people in their transition to the labour market. The new ‘Social Fairness package’ published yesterday, 13th March, is the European Commission’s proposal on how Europe can tackle these issues and better implement the European Pillar of Social Rights.

As part of the Social Fairness package, the European Commission has included a proposal for an EU Recommendation on access to social protection, and a proposal for a European Labour Authority (ELA). While the European Youth Forum very much welcomes both initiatives, we are very concerned that these will not be enough to fully protect young people’s rights and stop them from being left behind in the labour market.

The ELA aims to make labour mobility easier by providing both workers and employers with centralised information on their rights and obligations; and to fight fraud and abuse, often linked to lack of transparency.

Similarly, the European Commission’s proposal for a Council Recommendation on Access to Social Protection is also a step in the right direction. The Youth Forum has repeatedly called for the EU to address gaps in access to social protection and for the European social model to adapt to young people’s reality. We regret, however, that this EU action comes in the form of a Recommendation, which is not legally binding. Without the political will of national governments, this Recommendation could run the risk of failing to translate into reality.

Moreover, the definition of “worker” used in the proposal remains unclear. It is crucial that it internships, apprenticeships and those who are doing unpaid work are also covered by the Recommendation, otherwise young people carrying out unpaid internships, for example, could fall through the gap. Access to fair working conditions must be seen as a right, not a request. Nonetheless, this is a vital step towards acknowledging and addressing the new challenges arising from the changing nature of work. We call on Member States to work together to ensure that the Recommendation has a real impact on the lives of citizens and particularly young people.

The Youth Forum will continue to follow the next steps of the institutional processes and ensure that gaps are addressed so that no young person is left behind.

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