SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up 26-02-2016
Stress test – for whom?
26 February 2016
The domino effect of the Swedish, Danish and now Austrian decisions to close their borders has triggered a new migration movement: those who are forced to return are now arriving back in a country of transit, like Serbia. Until now the movement was only towards the North and NGOs like our members have been at the forefront of accompanying the migrants and refugees by offering a minimum of health care and hygiene services. All of this has taken place under very difficult conditions, with those in transit still expecting to arrive in the “promised land”.
With the Austrian decision the situation has changed dramatically, as those who are sent back will not walk back along the Balkan route nor will they take a ferry. They will, and this is the serious concern, try to reach the “promised land” by any means. Good news for the human traffickers and smugglers, but bad news for the local population as the pressure and stress increases, and feeds the fear factor.
Any unilateral decision will take us even further away from a European solution that many are calling for and which seems to be the only real realistic/sustainable solution that includes the creation of legal channels.
Orban’s announcement of a referendum on a quota is as populist as the Swiss referendum. Are we heading into a cul-de-sac? Do we still have any control over the process? Is there anyone making a social impact assessment or are we seriously giving up any hope of an exit strategy? This latest development could become the European Union’s tectonic shift, and it wasn’t even due to Europe! It is not due to any inaction by the European Institutions, far from that. It is due to the egotistic, fear driven national withdrawal of some Member States.
Facing the dilemma requires acting on the root causes of the migration movement, which means taking a mid and long term approach. Short term humanitarian solutions need to be further developed and some kind of civil courage is needed. Europe cannot leave those neighbouring countries which will have to face the humanitarian crisis and the stress test to deal with it on their own. Closing the door just transfers the problems. Janis Joplin sang “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”. Do we want to reduce the promise of freedom and welfare to this interpretation?
SOLIDAR Silver Rose Awards, the Progressive Civil Society Awards – The call for nominations is open
Who should receive this year’s SOLIDAR Silver Rose Awards?
Nominate now the organisation or individual whose efforts should be recognised with a Silver Rose Award in one of the three categories, Together for Social Europe, Building Learning Societies or Organising International Solidarity. The Silver Rose Nomination form.
Together for Social Europe
UK deal – is it really a fair deal for European workers and the future of the EU?
25 February 2016
The deal reached at last week’s summit – “A new settlement for the UK in the EU” – is being praised by many, including the Council’s President Tusk, UK Prime Minister Cameron and the European Commission. Although convinced that efforts should be made to keep Britain in the EU, SOLIDAR considers that this deal signifies a low point for Europe, for the idea of a Union of solidarity and shared values.
One of the key points of the agreement states that the principle of “free movement of workers … may be subject to limitations on grounds of public policy, public security or public health … If overriding reasons of public interest make it necessary, free movement of workers may be restricted by measures proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.” It continues: “In case the UK votes to stay a member of the EU, the EU regulation on the freedom of movement for workers within the EU is to be amended. The Council could then authorise Member States to restrict access to in-work benefits ‘in situations of inflow of workers from other Member States of an exceptional magnitude over an extended period of time.”
Social Progress Watch on labour market integration
24 February 2016
The Social Progress Watch (SPW) initiative is a tool implemented by members and partners of SOLIDAR to monitor the commitment and progress made by national governments towards a more social and cohesive Europe. Through the SPW, SOLIDAR collects country reports on a yearly basis providing recommendations for upward social convergence as well as case studies presenting innovative and sustainable models to promote social inclusion, the social economy and quality job creation.
Labour market integration- Case studies from Bulgaria, Romania and France
The financial crisis and increasing unemployment rates have had an impact on long term integration in the labour market. These challenges must be confronted with comprehensive and sustainable projects that facilitate the acquisition of skills in order to support workers integration in the labour market of EU Member States. The programmes and activities implemented by our committed and competent members in the field of labour market integration deliver concrete and inspiring examples.
SOLIDAR is convinced that a social economy model that guarantees access to training skills and vocational lifelong learning programmes can reduce long term unemployment whilst enhancing people’s opportunities to achieve the best possible social outcomes. The SOLIDAR Social Progress Watch (SWP) case studies offer a valuable insight into the link between appropriate training schemes and sustainable quality employments. An increased investment in and recognition of the value of social economy enterprises is necessary in order to strengthen their role and the work they are doing in promoting upward social convergence and labour market integration.
Building Learning Societies
Skills development and citizenship education: topics of the first Education Council under the Dutch Presidency
25 February 2016
Following the Paris attacks and the arrival of migrants and refugees in Europe, citizenship education has become key to combating radicalisation and fostering social cohesion and more active participation by citizens in social and political life in all European countries. The development of social, civic and intercultural competences can be a strategic tool that empowers citizens and can make a substantial contribution to personal development. Therefore, civic education should be a lifelong learning process and start at an early age. At the same time non-formal and informal education settings are equally as important in the provision of citizenship education as formal education systems. While numerous NGO’s and civil society organisations across Europe already promote citizenship education through non-formal education, the validation and recognition of acquired skills in informal learning environments is still problematic. The announced New Skills Agenda for Europe is supposed to focus on this issue.
On the occasion of the Education Council on the 24 February 2016 the 28 Education Ministers met in Brussels to discuss, amongst others, the above-mentioned issues. Besides adopting a resolution on socio-economic development and inclusiveness in the EU through education, they held a policy debate on skills development that will feed into the New Skills Agenda and discussed the follow-up of the Paris Declaration. The Council was hence devoted to education issues only and was preceded by a working lunch during which ministers addressed the subject “Education and the refugee crisis”, focusing on the role of citizenship and language education.
Organising International Solidarity
How to mainstream social protection in the European Development Fund’s (EDF) National Indicative Programmes (NIPs). African and Caribbean civil society show us the way
19 February 2016
Agenda 2030 and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda have reiterated governments’ commitment to the realisation of decent work and social protection for all:
“We are committed to ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including by eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. All people must enjoy a basic standard of living, including through social protection systems.” (Agenda 2030, paragraph 24)
The EU, through its development cooperation policy and programmes, is already greatly contributing to the achievement of these objectives. The forthcoming review of the National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) negotiated in the framework of the 11th European Development Fund, can be an opportunity to further pursue the progressive realisation of the right to decent work and social protection for all and better align the EDF programme with the Agenda 2030 spirit.
Starting from 19 February – to mark World Day of Social Justice (20 February) – to 7 April – to mark World Health Day, the Social Protection Monitor’s country reports will be published weekly. This week Uganda will be in the spotlight…
Read the full version of the Social Protection Monitor report on Uganda here.