The newly enlarged Union embraces a wider range of cultural traditions; greater variations in the quality of social infrastructure; greater extremes of poverty and wealth; a wider range of problems of social exclusion – such as the position of the Roma in some Member States; and higher levels of migration, both from within the Union and from third countries.
While European legislation has greatly strengthened protection against discrimination across the EU, much remains to be done, especially on implementation and enforcement, where some Member States are clearly failing to meet their responsibilities.
Exclusion from the workplace, in particular, threatens Europe’s prosperity. In the next 25 years, Europe’s working age population will drop by 20 million, yet Europe is far from its target of
getting 70% of the working-age population into jobs. Most of those whom we need to bring into the workplace face barriers through lack of skills, discrimination, age, disabilities or problems of reconciling family and professional responsibilities.
Policies to break down these barriers are an urgent priority both for Europe’s social policy and for its economic success.
1. Strengthen anti-discrimination legislation and enforcement. European legislation offers protection against discrimination in the workplace on grounds of race, religion or belief, age, disability or sexual orientation. But outside the workplace, only race and sex discrimination is covered.
The broad protection enjoyed at work should be extended to cover discrimination elsewhere, for example in education, social security, healthcare, access to goods and services and housing. Europe must fight all manifestations of racism, intolerance and extremism and defend firmly its
commitment to equality.
Stronger action is needed to encourage the integration of workers with disabilities into the work-force. And Europe should take action against all Member States which are not properly implementing the existing Directives.
“Some try to take political advantage of xenophobia and hatred in relation to minorities and immigrants in Europe. We, the PES, believe European societies must reject all forms of intolerance and hatred. Everyone has the right to live in dignity and be treated with respect regardless of their nationality, ethnic origin, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.“ (New Social Europe, p. 14)
2. Introduce a common European migration policy, with Member States sharing costs and responsibilities, a common admissions procedure for economic migration and coordination of national admissions policies. We need better cooperation between Member States’ border
control services against irregular immigration channels, with integrated control of external borders to protect migrants’ basic rights and fight people- trafficking.
3 visit this page. Put effective policies for integration at the heart of Europe’s migration policies . We call for a European Charter for the Integration of Migrants, with all Member States providing access to language- learning, information on common European values and respect for cultural diversity. A new European citizenship of rights and responsibilities should ensure the right to vote and access to education and childcare, with both a right and a duty to learn the language of the host country. There must be rights for migrants to seek jobs and to enjoy full trade union rights. We call for EU codes of conduct for ethical recruitment, for decent work in Europe and in developing countries and for EU firms to show social responsibility. Employers who exploit migrants should face penalties.
4. Tackle the root causes of migration , through a stronger commitment to conflict resolution, and a redoubling of Europe’s contribution to the Millennium Development Goals, in particular through better use of development aid and more pro-development trade policies. A “Savings for Development” fund should be created, so that remittances from migrants are used in productive investments. Management of migration should form part of EU development policy, in partnership with countries of origin. Fair readmission agreements should be concluded which respect the rights of migrants and the needs of Member States and countries of origin and transit.
5. Expand access to education and training. To compete at the leading edge of the global economy, Europe will have to ensure universal access to quality education and training. More attention and more financial resources are needed, with support from EU structural and Lifelong Learning funds – including a big expansion of support for vocational training through the Leonardo Programme. In 2008, the PSE Group will establish a group of independent experts, drawn from training specialists, business and trade unions, to develop a detailed proposal. We propose further the creation of a European right to life- long learning and second chance education for all those without tertiary education. EU benchmarking should be used to encourage Member States to increase the participation of all disadvantaged groups. Better recognition is needed for informal learning, which is crucial for better integration of the disadvantaged.
6. A workplace compatible with family life. The long-hours work culture should be tackled through updating legislation on working time. Europe faces a demographic challenge which will require active policies to help parents to work, or to continue their education or training. The Parental Leave Directive should be strengthened and Member States should be held to the promises made at the Barcelona European Council in 2002 on high quality childcare provision, integrating pre-school education into lifelong learning strategies.
“Some say that child care is a private matter and nothing more. We, the PES, have made our choice: European countries should move towards childcare for all who want it.” (New Social Europe, p. 13)
7. Use Europe’s Structural and Cohesion Funds as a weapon against exclusion and poverty. They should be used, for example, to extend childcare facilities and lifelong learning provision in Europe’s poorest regions; to improve social provision for care of the elderly; and to fund the programmes needed for successful integration of migrants.