human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Social justice is part of Europe’s DNA

The European Commission must propose and defend a Pillar of Social Rights that has a tangible positive impact on the situation of people affected by poverty and social exclusion. In its report End Poverty in Europe – our Solutions to make it Happen, Caritas identified long-term unemployed people, working poor, single parents, children and migrants and refugees as the groups of people most at risk of poverty. Their rights are also put at risk, notably their right to access decent jobs, decent housing and healthcare.

Children and youth are disproportionately affected. Children because of the precarious working conditions, labour market exclusion and income of their parents. Youth because of their difficulties to access the labour market and in particular decent jobs.

“When my children are not there, I don’t heat my apartment. As for the food, when they are not here, I eat less. I don’t want them to feel that I miss money. I tighten my belt. The hardest part is that I cannot give them what I would like to.” Fabrice, father of 3, France

People need governments to start having an inclusive approach to social and societal challenges facing our societies today.

In the recent publication Social Justice and Equality in Europe is possible, Caritas Europa advocates fair and sustainable social models based on three pillars: family and community, inclusive labour markets, and adequate social protection systems.

Well-functioning social protection systems, reaching out to the most affected and that are compatible with social protection systems of the other EU Member States, are the solid basis for reducing inequalities and thus enhancing economic growth. This should happen in a social investment logic that reinforces social cohesion and convergence within and between EU Member States.

“Social justice is a fundamental European value. It is part of Europe’s DNA. A European Pillar of Social Rights, firmly based on the Revised European Social Charter, will enable Europe to respect the dignity of the millions of people who, like Fabrice, are trapped in poverty. We all need a strong political leadership at European and national level to put the common good at the centre of the political agenda.” –  Shannon Pfohman, Advocacy and Policy Director at Caritas Europa

A Pillar, such as described above, will also contribute to making Europe more inclusive and will provide guidance for EU policy-makers to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Moreover, to succeed economically, Europe needs to be social because an economic success cannot be built on a social graveyard.