How do you imagine an inclusive Europe? And what do you want to do to realize this vision?
EPP (European People’s Party): We want to create a Europe in which everyone feels at home and accepted. Democracy, human rights and dignity, pluralism, and tolerance are core European values. Hatred, misogyny, racism, and antisemitism have no place in Europe. We will launch a pact against antisemitism by ﬁghting hate speech and establishing a common EU deﬁnition of antisemitism based on the IHRA deﬁnition. We also believe that inclusive societies need strong parliamentary democracies. This means strong parties and strong parliaments — at all levels — representing in the truest sense the people on the ground. We want to see an equal number of women and men making up the next Commission.
S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats): Inclusive Europe means for us a more inclusive future European society. We want to actively shape the design of such a Europe by investing in people. People have always been our priority. Education is a pre-condition for poverty eradication, human development and social inclusiveness, and investing in people first means investing in their education, skills and competences, with a specific focus on youth. Therefore, we call for an acceleration of the construction of a European Education Area in order to guarantee universal access to inclusive quality education and training for all. We call also for tripling the financial envelope dedicated to Erasmus+ in the future Multiannual financial framework 20212027 and for a programme to be more inclusive and accessible than ever, with a stronger focus on young people with fewer opportunities, school and youth exchanges and vocational training, ambitious cooperation with third countries, and further support to small-scale partnerships. For us, inclusive Europe means also inclusive European citizenship, social participation in the democratic life of the Union, and citizens’ engagement in our society. Therefore, we call for doubling the financing of the ‘Citizens’ engagement and participation’ strand of the new “Citizens, Rights and Values” programme, the strand which accounts for €500 million – a figure equivalent to barely €1 per EU citizen. A stronger role for culture in social and regional development is also key to creating more cohesive and inclusive local communities, as we stressed in light of the new European Social Fund + (ESF+), the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF), and the European Territorial Cooperation Goal (ETC or INTERREG Programme). We are committed to put forward all our proposals for a European Union that puts in place a strong social agenda, which gives priority to quality inclusive education systems from an early age, with a simultaneous lifelong learning approach, employment prospects, and a greater access to culture.
LYMEC (European Liberal Youth, youth wing of ALDE): In LYMEC we believe that the key to an inclusive Europe starts with equal opportunities, and we see education as a cornerstone when it comes to creating these opportunities. Early Childhood Education has an immense influence on the children’s development and represents the foundation of knowledge and socialization skills. We therefore want all the European countries to establish a pre-school year for 4-year-old children and to follow the goals of the European Commission. (By 2020 at least 95% of pre-school children of 4 years or older should participate in early childhood education.) We need to have all children in primary education in the 21st century in the EU. Non-compulsory pre-primary education is increasingly provided free of charge. This clearly facilitates access to pre-primary education for all children and especially for those who belong to low income families. All these measures may explain the increasing participation in education at this level. Access to quality education should not be determined by the member state or region one lives in, nor one’s background.
GUE-NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left): Our group works under the theme ‘Another Europe is possible’. Our vision is a Europe of equality between all human beings regardless of gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, ability, sexuality or wealth, and environmental sustainability. To achieve this, we work towards better quality jobs and higher salaries, better funding for public services and welfare, environmental sustainability, open borders for refugees and migrants and peaceful diplomatic participation in conflicts. This requires changing current policies and insisting that the rich and multinational companies pay their taxes, massive reduction of CO2 emissions, ending weapons sales and military intervention in conflicts, ending policies of austerity and changing cultures of discrimination. A Europe for the millions, not the millionaires. More information about all our policies is available in 11 languages and a list of the political parties currently in our group is on our website.
European Greens: Social inclusion is at the core of Green policy. Our priority is to build a Europe that delivers to its citizens, to all its citizens. We want to invest in a sustainable Europe that can play its role in fighting climate change. We want to guarantee a decent minimum income all over Europe. We want to uphold the rule of law so that democracy can be protected. We want to defend the right of asylum and have legal and safe channels for migration. We want to guarantee free access to quality education, fairly paid internships and good jobs for young people. Together these priorities can build an inclusive Europe. To achieve this vision we call for the Greens to have an even bigger presence in the European Parliament. If the Greens are key to establish majorities, then we can push for a more inclusive Europe.
YDE (Young Democrats for Europe, youth wing of EDP): To us, an inclusive Europe must be based in equality, respect, tolerance and freedom. Inclusion is one of our values in itself, we advocate for respect to minorities and diversity, In order to achieve a more inclusive Europe, we want to foster social and inclusive policies that do not leave behind any European citizen. In this regard, for example, we want to foster the development of rural areas, youth employment, the access to high-speed internet, the access to training and higher education to improve the employability of youth within the EU, training in languages free for migrants, etc.
Do you think Europe does enough to help the children and young people who were forced to flee from war, persecution and hunger? How do you want to help them?
EPP (European People’s Party): We believe that Europe can play a bigger role globally in solving crises and helping people. We are already the world’s leading provider of humanitarian assistance, yet we are convinced that we must do more to help those forced to leave their home countries. We want to have a stronger and more united European foreign policy to act more decisively at the global level and help to solve and avoid conflicts. At the same time, we are committed to supporting European Neighbourhood Countries to build stability, but we also want to commit more funds to helping countries in Africa to develop and create opportunities for their citizens. We envision a true Marshall plan for the African countries to work as partners, helping and supporting them to create prosperity and cooperation.
S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats): In 2017, over 30,000 migrant children arrived in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Bulgaria, almost half of these were not accompanied by an adult. EU governments have a moral and legal obligation to protect these children. We S-D are calling over years already ago, for member states to take action to ensure these children had the support and care they needed. However, many member states have still not implemented their obligations.
The S&D Group has been in the vanguard of political groups in the Parliament calling Member States to ensure that every child is given adequate shelter that a guardian is appointed on arrival, and that access to health care, psychological support and education are guaranteed. We must also speed up the process of family reunification, reconnecting children with their family members as quickly as possible.
These children are in an incredibly vulnerable position. Over the last few years, thousands have gone missing from official records. The S-D position has been very clear on the need of European Union to do all in its power to ensure their safety. The S-D is of the opinion that infringement procedures against member states that continue with the protracted and systemic detention of migrant children should be launched. The fear of being detained is a key reason why children are disappearing from the system – avoiding the authorities that should be there to help them. Last but not least, the S-D is strongly against the use of coercion to take children’s biometric data – which is a clear violation the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Despite attempts from the EPP to undermine these efforts we managed to introduce in the resolution adopted on the 3rd of May 2018, calling Member States not use coercion for the purposes of taking children’s biometric data.
LYMEC (European Liberal Youth, youth wing of ALDE): We believe more could be done. We want to reallocate the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) resources in order to focus on urgent action and empowerment of refugees instead of building long term dependency structures; to invest in accommodation and education in the region of conflict areas, in order to prevent the development of a lost generation in refugee camps and to guarantee refugees a safe place to stay; to provide for a legal and safe alternative to irregular migration, in order to prevent smuggling, human trafficking and fatal accidents on the sea, for example by making it possible to start the asylum procedure outside of potential host states within the EU and making it possible to apply for humanitarian visas at all EU embassies and to urge the EU to eliminate its Dublin System and replace it by a balanced, common asylum policy based on solidarity and justice, which allocates asylum seekers according to their individual skills (e.g. language, family members or contacts willing to support them) as well as the capacities and resources of potential host states to make sure the burden of refugees does not lie only with countries at the European borders. LYMEC supports the establishment, at least at the European level, of a formal definition of the term climate refugee and the creation, at least at the European level, of a legal instrument recognizing such category of refugees and providing adequate protection.
GUE-NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left): No. The European Union needs to radically change its policies to support – rather than punish – refugees and migrants. Since the last election in 2014, thousands of innocent people have drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach safety in Europe. We have consistently and unwaveringly supported the rights of refugees and migrants under international law. We do not support the EU’s policies of trying to keep refugees and migrants out of Europe by paying other countries (some of which are run by dictators and militias) to ‘process’ them. People have the human right to arrive and seek asylum in Europe. We work for safe and legal pathways for immigration, respect for all people and open borders. Fortress Europe must end and governments must show the same real solidarity that millions of Europeans have demonstrated when supporting refugees and migrants in crisis.
European Greens: No, Europe is currently not doing enough. For us, the right to asylum is non-negotiable. We want an asylum policy based on solidarity, on humanity and an orderly process, including the fair sharing of responsibilities among Member States and re-establishing a European searescuing mission. Europe must create common standards and common rules for labour mobility and migration. We want the Union to support countries and municipalities integrating refugees or migrants. Helping migrants should never be criminalised. People do not belong in prison for seeking asylum.
YDE (Young Democrats for Europe, youth wing of EDP): We think that integration is the basis for the humanitarian help. The aim of helping cannot be restricted to money allocations that help the migrants only in the moment in which they arive to Europe, which is still necesary. In this regard, we advocate for establishing quotas for the inclusion of migrants in universities and schools, the provision of free european lenguage trainings, fostering internships for migrants in order to help them to enter the labour market, etc.
Do you think Europe does enough to help the children and young people in Europe who are forced to live in poverty? How do you want to help them?
EPP (European People’s Party): The European Union plays an important role in fighting poverty in Europe. During the last 4 years we have created a social pillar for Europe which strengthens our social rights. Through cohesion funds and other EU financial instruments, we support the Member States in fighting poverty. We want to create an inclusive Europe in which no one is left behind. For us to be successful as a continent, we need everyone’s efforts and for this, we are strongly committed to the idea of equal opportunities. At the same time, we believe that you need to create jobs to fight poverty and offer economic opportunities to everyone, no matter which part of Europe you are in. Therefore, we are committed to creating 5 million new jobs over the next years to make sure that everyone can improve their situation.
S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats): The S&D is committed to the promotion of equal opportunities for all, and wants to make sure that all EU citizens have access to the means and services necessary to flourish and become successful, responsible members of society. Hugely important to achieve this, is reducing poverty and child poverty in particular. Since according to Eurostat, more than a quarter of children in the EU-28 are at risk of poverty or social exclusion (2016 figures) – that is to say, since there are more than 24.8 million children that suffer from a lack of income and basic services such as adequate food, education, housing or healthcare, with 11 million of them severely affected by material deprivation, it is crystal clear to the S&D that more needs to be done to help children and young people out of poverty. Failing to take decisive political action would mean excluding a great part of the next generation. Moreover, such a failure would go against the principle of equal opportunities as enshrined in the Treaties (in particular, Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty on promoting children’s rights; Article 3.1 of the Treaty on European Union on combating social exclusion) and as reiterated in the European Pillar of Social Rights (in particular, principle 11 on childcare and support to children). The S&D is therefore campaigning for the introduction of a European Child Guarantee, a policy paper on which we have attached to this questionnaire. The Child Guarantee would seek to tackle child poverty in all its aspects, and ensure that every European child at risk of poverty has access to free quality healthcare, free quality education, free quality childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition. These five areas of action would be covered through European and national action plans. In terms of implementation, we would want the European Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to agree on binding common goals. This would include a Europe 2020 sub-target on reducing child poverty and social exclusion. Given that the Child Guarantee should be considered as an investment in the stability and prosperity of the European Union, necessary for preserving the EU’s growth potential, the S&D would want precise indicators of child poverty included in the Annual Growth Survey, which would serve as benchmarking for Member States in their annual National Reform Programmes and National Social Reports. In terms of funding, the S&D calls for an earmarked part of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) of 5.9 billion euros to finance the Child Guarantee, possibly as a part of a wider grouping of funds (e.g. ERDF) at a later stage. The S&D would also want Member States to direct at least 5% of their ESFresources towards the implementation of the Child Guarantee. The S&D would want to ensure the Child Guarantee is developed through strong cooperation between all stakeholders, and built with the full participation of children and adolescents at every step of the way – making them agents for positive change and active European citizens’ in the process.
LYMEC (European Liberal Youth, youth wing of ALDE): We believe that the European Union exists for the singular citizen. When social inequality and insecurity increasingly divides our community, it must be the Union’s’ responsibility to step up. The Commissions’ desire to create a social column in the European cooperation is a priority that meets the issues and can create a necessary positive change in all our lives. It is a desire that we in LYMEC support. However, supranational social policy can only work based on competition and pluralism. In principle, the member states should be responsible for social policy. It should be a priority in the social pillar to minimize analphabetism in all member nations so that no citizen has to go through life without a minimum of skill in language. It must be fundamental for the social pillar that it contributes to the fight against inequality and discrimination on any grounds (gender, sexuality, race, age, religion, …). We also believe that it is fundamental for the European Union that every citizen feels safe and secure on the labor market and in everyday life. Therefore, it is important that citizens in the EU have just and similar social rights across the borders of all member nations.
GUE-NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left): No. Millions of children in Europe still live below the poverty line. Current policies of austerity cut public funding to schools, welfare programmes and social services that help the most vulnerable children. We must change this by funding public services and ending austerity. Migrant children are especially vulnerable to poverty, so we must also change migration policies that leave them in instability by granting more permanent visas to these children and their parents, as well as providing additional public services to assist with social integration.
European Greens: No, Europe is currently not doing enough. Today, one in four people in Europe live at risk of poverty and social exclusion – including 25 million children. This is unacceptable. When Europe as a whole is wealthier than ever before, everybody deserves a decent standard of living. Reducing poverty and tackling inequalities must be a cornerstone of all economic and social policies. We reject austerity measures that have resulted in increasing poverty and deteriorating public services.
YDE (Young Democrats for Europe, youth wing of EDP): On of our values is equality. In this sense, we believe in the equality of opportunities. In this sense we consider absolutely necesary maintaing a solid public health and education system which allows the citizens to improve their living standards, through the improvement of their employability and being healthy.