European Year for Development 2015


In the framework of the European Year of Development’s month dedicated to Decent Jobs, the Global Progressive Forum, together with the Young European Socialists and SOLIDAR, calls Members of the European Parliament to reinvigorate their commitment to promote, through EU internal and external policies, Decent Work for All.

In a context where only one quarter of workers worldwide is estimated to have a stable employment relationship; three quarters of workers are employed on temporary or short-term contracts, in informal jobs often without any contract, under own-account arrangements or in unpaid family jobs; the global precariat is emerging as a new class.

It is high time to adopt policies aiming at:  

·         The improvement of jobs’ quality[1], with conditions of freedom, equality, security and dignity for all;

·         Supporting the creation of quality jobs, and to increase the availability of employment;

·         Promoting education and vocational training[2].

More in particular, we call on the European Parliament to work –through its internal and external policies - towards the fulfilment of the following objectives which are in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU:


1. Decent Work for All

Income inequality is increasing or remains high in the majority of countries – a trend that is aggravated by the rising incidence of non-permanent forms of employment, growing unemployment and inactivity.

The income gap between permanent and non-permanent workers has increased over the past decade as well as between women and men.

As the new Juncker Commission unfolds its plans to encourage job creation in the coming years, it is important to keep in mind that social progress will only happen if the focus is on decent job creation. A quantitative growth of jobs will do little to alleviate hardship if these jobs are not accompanied with decent working conditions for women and men. 

Decent Work: A challenge (also) for Europe!

·         Growing precariousness: In Europe, there is a general trend towards decreasing the segmentation of the labour market by lowering protection for those who are better protected. Lowering standards for every worker corresponds to rising precariousness and worsening working conditions.


·         Youth unemployment: The rate of youth unemployment has reached historically high levels. In Spain and Greece, half of young people are unemployed.


·         Poverty and social exclusion: In 2013, about a quarter of the European population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion[1] (AROPE). 30% of young Europeans are concerned by poverty and social exclusion.


·         Gender based discrimination: While 60% of all university graduates in Europe are women, they still earn on average 16% less than men working on the same position and when it comes to the pension gap between women and men, the average is at 39% across Europe, increasing the risk for women to fall into poverty. In addition, women are highly represented in lower-paid sectors such as the care sector (and only represent 20% of company board members). Women have also been bearing in particular the burden of the crisis, be it through budgetary cuts affecting female dominated sectors such as the public sector or cuts affecting services mostly used by women such as childcare facilities.


2. Economic, social and cultural rights at the heart of development 

Almost 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed a wide spectrum of human rights that every human being has – without discrimination. These include rights to education, to adequate housing and other economic, social and cultural rights. In fact, economic, social and cultural rights are a broad category of human rights guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other legally binding international and regional human rights treaties. Nearly every country in the world is party to a legally binding treaty that guarantees these rights:

·         The right to education, including ensuring that primary education is free and compulsory, that education is sufficiently available, accessible, acceptable and adapted to the individual.

·         Cultural rights of minorities and Indigenous Peoples. 

·         The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including the right to healthy living conditions and available, accessible, acceptable and quality health services. 

·         The right to adequate housing, including security of tenure, protection from forced eviction and access to affordable, habitable, well located and culturally adequate housing.

·         The right to food, including the right to freedom from hunger and access at all times to adequate nutritious food or the means to obtain it.

·         The right to water – the right to sufficient water and sanitation that is available, accessible (both physically and economically) and safe.

In its policies, the EU should include a strong focus on the full realisaiton of ESCRs, the ratification and implementation of ILO International Labour Standards.


3. Social Protection to escape the trap of poverty and enable social progress

Social security is a human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on ESCRs and the ILO Convention C102. For that reason we call upon the international community to support the inclusion of an implementation target, by 2030, of universal and comprehensive social protection systems including nationally-defined social protection floors (such as outlined in ILO Recommendation 202), in the post-2015 development cooperation framework and to develop appropriate monitoring tools to ensure this target is met. At the same time, the Financing for Development outcome document must include a commitment to establish and devote resources to the Global Fund for Social Protection in order to support countries in need of international support to meet this target as well. 


4. Keep aid commitments to ensure sufficient resources to enable inclusive and sustainable development

Only four EU member states have met the 0.7% of GNI for ODA target, and it is expected that in 2015 governments of most EU member states will fail to meet even the intermediary target of 0.56% ODA/GNI, which was set for 2010. At the same time, having a target on Universal and comprehensive Social Protection will not be enough if it is not accompanied by international support for countries in need. For these reasons we ask governments to ensure that the 0.7% target is maintained and reached. We support the recognition of Social Protection as one of the four core cross-cutting areas where concrete initiatives are needed in order to be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the establishment of a global fund for social protection. As 2015 is equally important in terms of global women’s rights, we welcome the fact that Gender Equality remains a Stand-Alone Goal, but want a more ambitious approach, one addresses women’s rights and freedom globally as a matter of justice and financial investment in this priority.


5. Ensure respect for migrant rights 

We must ensure that migrant workers are not exploited and enjoy the same rights as other workers. Furthermore, we support the ratification and implementation of key international conventions relating to Trafficking of Human Beings[3], including ILO conventions concerning forced labour and domestic workers, Migration for Employment (C97), supplementary provisions on Migrant Workers (C143), as well as the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families (ICMW).[4]

[1] The absence of a clear definition of quality work has produced many abuses of the term. If the well-being of the workers is the ultimate objective, this concept should to take into account the following key indicators: Adequate and equal hourly net wage for women and men; quality working physical and psychological environment; work organisation and personal development; respect for workers' rights: consultation and representation; system of protection of workers such as appropriate social security protection; legislation/regulation on non-discrimination based on age, gender and origin; distance to work and transport facilities; facilities granted by the employer such as lifelong learning, reconciliation of private and professional life for women and men; Sustainable contract and adequate employment rights ( Progressive Economy Concept Paper1, Decent work: a job at any cost? Internal workshop, European Parliament, February 24th 2015).

[2]The most competitive economies in Europe are those in which companies take workers most seriously. In Italy, only 10% of companies invest regularly in their workers, while in Finland it is more than 50%. Nevertheless, the general tendency is to underestimate the importance of lifelong learning in employment. Indeed, according to Eurostat, one third of companies in the EU28 did not provide any vocational training for their employees; while in the remaining two thirds, only less than half of their employees have access to vocational training.

[3] The European Commission, in its June 2012 strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings ‘[…], urges the Member States to ratify all relevant international instruments, agreements and legal obligations which will make the work against trafficking in human beings more effective, coordinated and coherent.’ European Commission (2012). The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016, COM(2012)286 final, 19 June.

[4]A Special Thanks to Anahi Vila (S&D Secretariat) and Lesia Radelicki (PES Women) to support us with the document.

Publication date: 
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 00:00