The scale of social damage resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented.We need universal social security systems in the European Union as a human right and to serve as stabilizers in case of future crises: this means protecting everyone and making sure people have enough to eat and live a healthy life, which is in the interest of our society as a whole. To step up and ensure inclusiveness and non-discrimination after the crisis, we need a real social Union.
The social impacts of the crisis will be felt long after the end of the sanitary crisis. The European Union should boost decent universal social support schemes, unemployment and other social benefits to all people, including lowest-paid workers, freelancers, self-employed and young workers. Job creation must be at the core of recovery and to prevent the arising of more precarious jobs in the future. Legislative action should be presented to ban zero-hour contracts, end the practice of unpaid post-graduate internships or ensure worker status for non-standard workers, such as platform workers.
We need to ensure that everyone in the EU receives a poverty-proof minimum income(taking into account the gender dimension) and we need a concrete action plan to end in-work poverty, including EU-wide living wages as still too many workers work hard and don’t earn enough income for them and their families to live a decent and healthy life. The European Union should create quality jobs with the ability to acquire the skills we all need to ensure a social, gender-equal and inclusive just transition. Member States are also invited to seriously explore the option of basic universal income schemes as a social buffer for future crises.
The post-crisis recovery plan should ensure it addresses a harsh reality: women remain poorer, because of lower wages, reduced pensions or other diminished forms of income. As shown by the crisis, most of the essential jobs and informal care work keeping our economy afloat during the lockdown were performed by women but they are still paid less than men for the same jobs and their contribution remains largely undervalued. The European Commission cannot postpone any action on this matter as work of equal value deserves equal pay.
The COVID-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated one thing: we need much more public investment into key services that are vital to our society and guarantee the fulfilment of our human rights: health, education, culture, housing, environmental justice to name just a few, irrespective of residence or migration status. Asylum seekers will be among the most negatively impacted persons by this unprecedented crisis. The European Union should provide a new solidarity mechanism so that all Member States equally share the dignified reception of these people, already living in a vulnerable situation.
We need a new “Care Deal for Europe”, in order to put the notion of care back at the centre of our social response to the crisis. Care, social and education services shoul dbe available to all people living in Europe. For this, the massive public investment plan must improve formal care work and recognise informal care (e.g. via care credits), a European framework on housing as there is a tremendous under-investment in housing (which would also help tackle homelessness and create jobs), a revision of our work-life balance rules, substantial investments in promoting mental health in health and social services and measures to ensure gender equality, a child-friendly society and protect persons in a vulnerable situation, such as people with disabilities, asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, refugees, prisoners and minorities.
The European Union should invest in its future and our youth: the COVID-19 crisis will make it even harder for young professionals to enter the job-market because of reduced employment. That is why the EU needs to boost funding and deliver on a binding Youth Guarantee across the EU to prevent long-term youth unemployment. European education systems need to be improved and the EU should present a European Child Guarantee so that by 2030 no child or youngster in the EU is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Climate change education should be the centre of a paradigm shift in which the whole of society takes part, with a special focus on children and youth, who will lead the change in future generations.
One of the dramatic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak is the increased reported number of gender-based and intra-family violence across Europe. With millions of Europeans in lockdown, current support mechanisms for women and children, victim of domestic violence are hindered. We need increased funding to support these victims and for the EU to ratify the Istanbul Convention and the Commission to urgently make a legislative proposal to combat gender-based violence.