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In this time of unprecedented crisis, the European Union must heed the lessons from the financial crash of 2008 and take substantial and coordinated action now.  Failure to act quickly, decisively and appropriately will have devastating consequences.

The European Union faces many challenges in relation to healthcare, cost of housing and financial distress that will be further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.  This is one of the key findings from the National Social Monitor – European Edition.  In this Spring 2020 edition of our National Social Monitor, Social Justice Ireland outlines the present situation on a range of policy issues, comparative to the rest of Europe, that impact on people’s wellbeing and looks at what policies can be introduced to support the most vulnerable.

“Economic growth is not an end in itself. An economy must work for the people and the planet.”  So begins the European Commission’s Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy, also referred to as the European Green Deal, consisting of four dimensions:  environment, productivity, stability and fairness.  The Sustainable Development Goals will be “at the heart” of the EU’s policymaking and action to move towards the objective of offering younger generations in Europe a sustainable and prosperous future.

People should be assured of the required treatment and care in their times of illness or vulnerability.  Yet in Ireland the healthcare system still struggles to provide an adequate service to everyone, and despite recent increases in resourcing we still have very high levels of unmet care needs.  

As we watch the political chaos unfold across the Irish Sea, we must acknowledge the need to learn the lessons of Brexit. Many of those who voted for Brexit voted against their own economic interest. This points to a disillusionment with politics and with social and economic policies. Among the lessons to be learned from Brexit are the need for the EU to represent something positive in the eyes of ordinary people. Implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights would go a long way to making sure that this does not happen again in other countries.

Social Justice Ireland wishes our newly elected MEPs every success.  This is a pivotal time for the future of the European Union and MEPs play a key role in ensuring that social and environmental sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals are at the heart of Europe's future.   To this end we have formulated Five Key Policy Asks for our MEPs in conjunction with Trocaire. They are:

  1. The Elimination of Poverty
  2. The Championing of Climate Justice
  3. Policy Coherence on the SDGs
  4. Delivery on the European Pillar of Social Rights
  5. Supporting an international treaty on Business and Human Rights

Next week, Social Justice Ireland and Trócaire will co-host a hustings event for the Dublin constituency ahead of the European Elections on May 24th. Ahead of this, we have formulated a joint policy platform, with Five Key Policy Asks. They are:

  1. The Elimination of Poverty
  2. The Championing of Climate Justice
  3. Policy Coherence on the SDGs
  4. Delivery on the European Pillar of Social Rights
  5. Supporting an international treaty on Business and Human Rights

Among the key findings from the National Social Monitor - European Edition are that quality of housing, the burden of housing costs, financial distress, difficulty in making ends meet and the environment are key issues in Ireland and across the European Union.  As we face into European Elections in May these issues are certain to feature strongly.

Social Justice Ireland today launches the latest in our European Research Series 'Recovery in Europe: uneven and incomplete' reviewing the social situation in the 28 EU member states and making some proposals and recommendations for a more sustainable and inclusive future. The report analyses performance in areas such as poverty and inequality, employment, access to key public services
and taxation. These areas are examined in light of the key social policy responses of the European Union to the crisis including the social investment package.

‘Recovery in Europe: uneven and incomplete’ is the twelfth publication in Social Justice Ireland’s European Research Series.  

The purpose of our European Research Series is tocontribute to the debate and discussion on policy issues that affect all members of the European Union. To date this research series has produced comprehensive reviews of Ireland’s performance towards its Europe 2020 targets, a comprehensive examination of the impact of policies pursued by the European Union and its members states after the financial crisis of 2008 and an extensive analysis of how European member states have been performing in terms of social and economic targets after the crisis. Some of this research focussed on those countries most affected by the crisis.

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