“High employment rates and signs of improvement for the youth”, this is how the European Commission advertises the current Quarterly Report on Employment and Social Developments in the EU. The Commission far too often paints a too rosy picture of the economic and social development in Europe. However, from the AK’s point of view, additional efforts have to be made at European level to ensure that the increased growth and employment rates also improve people’s working and living conditions. 

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On the 1st as well as on the 15th and 16th September 2020, the German Presidency held high-ranking conferences on its social policy priorities. Apart from the discussion on EU minimum wages, the fight against poverty, the precarious situation of seasonal and mobile workers, youth employment, platform workers and binding standards in the supply chain were also at the centre of the debate.

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Closed educational establishments, digital learning, fewer apprenticeships – the Coronavirus crisis also had a major impact on the education sector. However, it is the intention of the German Presidency to make progress especially in the areas of digitalisation and vocational training.

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On 7 September 2020, EU Commissioners Ylva Johansson and Nicolas Schmit together with representatives of the European Social partners reiterated their commitment to a European Partnership for Integration.

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In its first Committee meeting after the summer break, Members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs debated adequate and affordable housing. Within the scope of an own initiative report, the Committee urges the Commission to dedicate more effort to the fight for affordable housing and to treat housing as a fundamental right.

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At the beginning of the recent electoral period of the EU, the European Commission under its President Ursula von der Leyen announced a series of initiatives in terms of digitalisation. By the end of the year 2020, the Commission will present a proposal to revise the legal rules regarding economic activities on online platforms. For the ongoing consultation, the AK provides a tool to facilitate the participation of platform workers.

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Promoting digital skills and competences has long been one of the EU’s objectives; however, the Coronavirus crisis has once again clearly confirmed the urgency of appropriate measures. The intention is to give special support to disadvantaged groups of the population whilst at the same time avoiding that already existing gaps widen even more.

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The demands for an EU law on due diligence is gaining more and more supporters. Following the announcement of EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders in April to present a Commission proposal at the beginning of next year, there are now more voices that support such a law. The new German Presidency also makes the subject of due diligence one of its priorities.

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Earlier recessions already made aware of the fact that young people are the first and the most severely affected by unemployment and economic uncertainty. The Coronavirus economic crisis sadly confirms this. However, this time the European Commission is early in its response to these developments. Still, it will require a significantly larger budget to ensure that the Youth Employment Support initiative will have an impact.

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When the heads of state and government meet next week to negotiate Europe’s economic recovery, there will be women sitting at the table – however, they hardly play a role in the recovery plan itself. A petition wants to change this.