Caritas Europa made a strong call in favour of the European Pillar of Social Rights today at a press conference where it presented the results of a survey on youth poverty, conducted by 17 national Caritas organisations in Europe.
The conference included the participation of Mr. Allan Larsson, Special Adviser on the Pillar of Social Rights to the European Commission; Ms. Heather Roy, Secretary General of Eurodiaconia, Bishop Per Eckerdal of the Swedish Lutheran Church and Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.
Among other things, the survey unveils the emergence of a new youth poverty phenomenon that Caritas Europa has coined SINKIES – Single Income, No Kids. The term refers to young couples without children who are both working-poor and who, when their wages are combined, barely earn the equivalent of a decent single income.
“The appearance of SINKIES is an extremely grave signal that policy-makers must take very seriously. This will be the first generation in decades that risks to be worse off than their parents, bringing along deep consequences for social cohesion, social models as well as social protection systems. We run the risk of a sinking society if no action is taken now,” said Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.
The results from the survey show that:
- For the first time in decades, younger generations are likely to have fewer opportunities and to be worse off than their parents as jobs are scarcer, wages are lower and working conditions are poorer.
- European societies have given up on their commitment to social cohesion and are disregarding the younger generations.
- Young people are often discriminated against and experience difficulties to access basic rights, such as the right to housing and the right to access quality employment.
- The protracted economic crisis and the subsequent changes introduced in labour markets have hit young people the hardest, e.g. in terms of labour contracts, wages, working conditions and access to social protection.
- Young single parents, especially young single mothers, have been identified by the survey as the group that is the most vulnerable and exposed to poverty and exclusion.
- The army of NEETs – young people Not in Employment, Education or Training – is now being joined by a new phenomenon that Caritas Europa has coined as SINKIES: Single Income, No Kids. As opposed to DINKIES, a term coined in the 1980s to describe couples earning a double income who choose to be childless, SINKIES might actually wish to have children, but simply cannot afford it.
During the press conference, Caritas Europa proposed the following set of recommendations to the European Union and its Members States.
Recommendations from Caritas Europa to the European Union
Develop a comprehensive, coordinated strategy to prevent and fight youth poverty that is:
A. Based on the principles enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights;
B. Coherent with the strategy to fight child and family poverty laid out by the European Commission in its 2013 Recommendation on investing in Children;
C. Adequately funded to support national youth strategies by:
i. Improve the implementation of the Youth Guarantee;
ii. Maintaining at least the same amount of European Social Fund and earmarking 50% of it for the fight against poverty;
iii. Using the flexibility clause of the Stability and Growth Pact to allow Member States to exempt prioritised social investment with the highest return (young families and youth)..
Recommendations from Caritas Europa to Member States
Design or update their national strategy to prevent and fight youth poverty, which include actions such as:
A. Access to housing: Ensure access to quality, appropriate and affordable housing by, for instance, investing in social housing, rent subsidies and specific fiscal advantages;
B. Income: Apply a minimum income level to end in-work poverty;
C. Family support: Support vulnerable young families, especially young single parents, so that they can access employment, housing and other social rights;
D. Confirming their commitment to the principles enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights by ratifying and implementing the Revised European Social Charter as the Social Constitution of Europe and to accept its Collective Complaints Mechanism.
Notes to editor:
- The findings of the survey have been compiled in 17 national reports, available here: http://www.caritas.eu/publications.
- The European report, which is based on the 17 national reports, will be available in February 2018.
- A longer briefing that compiles the results presented at the press conference is available here.
- The press conference was co-organised by Caritas Europa, Caritas Sweden, Eurodiaconia and the Swedish Lutheran Church.
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