Social justice and equality in Europe – is possible! is Caritas roadmap to make Social Europe possibe. It presents building blocks for resilent social models in Europe, towards ensuring social justice. This proposal, aimed at ensuring an adequate level of solidarity in our societies, is the result of a long process of observation, reflection and analysis of social realities and of testing innovative practices in the Caritas network, based on the Caritas vision of society.
We need to ensure basic social protection those who cannot meet their own basic needs, empowering them to participate in society. But to go further than that, we also need to alter unjust social structures that create poverty, social exclusion and indifference.
Caritas works on a daily basis with people experiencing poverty to dialogue and develop strategies for change. We analyse how solidarity can best be put into practice to effectively reduce inequalities and eradicate persistent poverty. The Caritas model is based on three pillars:
Family, a vital cell of society and primary safety net;
inclusive labour markets, recognising the value of work and people’s contribution to society;
Social protection systems, sound social investment.
In Caritas view, social models are resilient if they can cope with economic, social and demographic challenges. The impact of the financial and economic crisis of 2008 shows that European social models are not able to address adequately all the consequences of these kinds of crises.
Before 2008, about 120 million people were living in or at risk of poverty in Europe. This figure increased following the crisis, peaking at 125 million in 2013. Today, though the figure has come down, it still is at the pre-crisis level.
In order to arrive at resilient social models, Caritas publication provides for recommendations to design policies under the three pillars. We provide specific recommendations for national authorities as well as EU institutions to guide their review processes for improving the different social models to eradicate extreme poverty and social exclusion effectively. In particular, we recommend to:
Adopt a monthly child allowance; families with a low income should receive an increased amount of such allowance;
Ensure wage equality between women and men – equal pay for equal work;
Guarantee a means-tested minimum income that is above the poverty line;
Protect basic social rights by integrating them as human rights into national constitutions;
Use the Stability and Growth Pact’s flexibility clause to allow EU Member States to exempt social investment from the calculation of national budgetary expenditure.
Read the full publication here.