Repairing the Social Fabric of European Societies
Chapter 5: Making it count: investing in a Social Europe that is meaningful for young people
Recent macroeconomic policies in weaker European economies following the Financial Crises of 2007-2008 have caused critical challenges to the well-being of young people living and working across European societies. The fabric of society has been damaged by widening socio-economic inequalities caused by rapid deficit reduction, the de-regulation of labour markets, and the prioritization of cuts to public services. This has created new societal risks in a number of European states including inadequacies in publicly funded education and training, a weak labour market characterized by part-time, non-standard and temporary jobs, and inadequate social care provision (Rahman et. al. 2020; Nixon, 2019; Antonucci, 2017; MacDonald, 2016; Ellison, 2014). Young people across Europe are evidenced as being the most vulnerable group following any economic crises (Nixon, 2019; IPPR, 2017; MacDonald, 2016; Antonucci, L. 2017; EU, 2016; OECD, 2016; ILO, 2020b; Ellison, 2014; Vaughan-Whitehead, 2013). Recent economic analysis has clearly evidenced that the current Covid 19 health pandemic will lead to a severe economic recession at global level (IMF,2020; OBR, 2020). Once again young people who live and work in societies in Europe and across the world will be the group that are most vulnerable to the impact of global economic recession (ILO,2020a). In Europe, major initiatives such as The Youth Guarantee, Youth on the Move and the EU Youth Strategy 2019 - 2027 have emerged in response to these challenges. This chapter traces the origins of these programmes and examines the degree to which these major initiatives have led to a convergence of social policies for young people across Europe. The chapter also examines the relevance of new alternative economic models and policies designed to support young people as they negotiate the challenges within post-Covid 19 social and economic contexts. This chapter is informed by an empirical analysis of recent EU policy strategies and measures directed at the complex and multi-dimensional vulnerabilities faced by young people across European societies.
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