Ladies and Gentlemen:
The topic chosen for this year within the framework of the Euromeetings is really wide. It is about employment, labour market, and consequently, about the crisis’ notion, which disrupts in a larger or smaller way to the economy of the Member States that form the European Union.
The first consequence of this economic crisis is the high unemployment rate which affects both young and old people. Concerning the unemployment rate, proper regulations in terms of social and/or retirement protection of each Member State can accentuate or, on the contrary, although it is less common, attenuate the situations of precariousness, leading to social exclusion in some cases. In the last case, the most affected population are single-parent families and the elderly.
The European Union defined in 2010 the Europe 2020 objective, which we are going to deal with today during this speech. Therefore, this year constitutes half way of its progress. The main fields which we must work on to reach the 2020 objective are employment, education, research – innovation, energy and climate, and finally, social inclusion. Obviously, the last one, linked to employment, is the one that we will discuss today.
The term «inclusion sociale» (social inclusion) is not very common in French language, which prefers its antonym, that is: «l'exclusion sociale» (social exclusion). Let me show you some figures related to employment and to social exclusion in Europe:
In 2014, there were 27 million unemployed people in the European Union, that is, an average rate of 10%. But, as every average, it hides differences from 5 to 25%.
In addition, 25% is the population’s rate that is nowadays considered threatened by poverty or social exclusion. As I was telling before, women and children are threatened, but also the elderly; and because of the crisis, differences between Member States got worse in most cases.
This fact has to be matched with the social protection level that there can be in every Member State, and with their allocation’s conditions.
Although each State is responsible for defining its social protection and for funding it, the European Union set the aim of managing the national systems, especially for boosting the professional mobility between Member States.
According to the free movement of people and goods’ principle, the European Union’s citizens have the right to search a job in another country within the Union, as well as the right to work there without having to ask for a work permit and to live in the country, with or without a job.
Let us remember that a coordination regarding social security and pensions exists.
In order to go beyond in the achievement of its aims and within the framework of the specific action for fighting against poverty and social exclusion, the European Union decided to be open to new actors from the civil society, in order to involve them in its thoughts and make concrete actions emerge, according to the involved population’s hopes.
In addition, some of the aims of this institution are fighting against failure at school, contributing to basic bank services’ access for less-favoured people, fostering social firms and facilitating loan access. These actions will be funded thanks to a European help fund that is able to provide to most needed people, in an emergency situation, with foodstuffs, clothing or medicaments.
As you can see, all these objectives are both laudable and ambitious and have a financing cost. For this reason, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) decided to do balance five years ahead from the final objective, and to adapt the hypothesis of identified impacts originated by a crisis which started, as you know, in 2008.
The European Economic and Social Committee reasserts that the social protection is a useful redistributing tool for social cohesion and solidarity, and has to remain in the European project’s heart.
On this same vein, the different social protection systems must be modernised and must be adapted to the requests of the current economic context.
With regard to the fight against poverty and social exclusion, the European Economic and Social Committee stresses that austerity measures carried out in some countries reached their efficiency limit and the fact of measuring both its social and economic impact is necessary.
This unprecedented crisis’ impact, at least from the European Economic Community’s creation in 1957, is still not over, despite some experts have been predicting, here and there, a soon end. The future of our European community will perhaps be determined in the next years. Seven years of crisis have already weakened the institution, and the enlargement of the European Union, sometimes carried out at forced paces, has not helped stopping to existent disparities between the different Member States.
After having been originally an “economic” Europe, for some Member States, being keen to create favourable conditions for fulfilling durable peace after a serious world conflict, the Europe where we live nowadays became a “monetary” Europe for 18 out of 28 Member States which form it.
The Europe of the future will have to be a “social” one or, at least, head to this aim as soon as possible. Without this social element, accession for citizens to the European project is at risk of being questioned and that would mean an important failure for all.
Thank you for your attention.
President of the National Federation of Pensioners from Savings Banks
La Coruña, on 22nd of April 2015