Porto EU social summit expected to focus on youth

Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit said that the focus now is to support job creation through new instruments like the Effective Active Support to Employment following the COVID-19 crisis (EASE). [EPA-EFE/JOHANNA GERON]

The European Commission wants to promote a “strong social dimension” at the May summit in Porto, as part of the Portuguese EU Council presidency, advocating a focus on young people who are facing a “difficult period” due to the COVID-19 crisis​​​​​​​.

“We are now preparing the Porto social summit. It will be a crucial moment, not only because of the action plan and the social rights’ pillar but to show that during this crisis and this time of tremendous and accelerated changes, we have to build a stronger social dimension”, the European Commissioner for employment and social rights, Nicolas Schmit, said in an interview with EURACTIV’s media partner Lusa.pt and other media in Brussels.

Alluding to Portugal’s priorities, he stressed that “we cannot make an ecological transition or promote the digitisation of the economy without fully building the social dimension: jobs, jobs with quality and rights and social protection”.

Schmit said the Porto Social Summit said this would be “a moment when all these commitments must be repeated, in a concrete way”.

Even so, “there is one issue we must pay attention to, and that is the situation of young people in the face of this crisis, not only in terms of employment but in general, all those who study, young people who have difficulties”, Schmit stressed.

“This is something that must be on the agenda and on which we must work on because if we do not find the right solutions, this will leave us with a generation of young people who will not forget this tough period”, he insisted following questions raised by Lusa on that matter.

According to Community statistics, young people are among those most affected by the current COVID-19 crisis. They often have temporary and precarious contracts and are often employed in tourism, commerce and catering.

One of the main priorities of the Portuguese presidency is the social agenda, and the approval of the future action plan of the Social Rights Pillar, a non-binding text of 20 principles to promote social rights in Europe, approved in Gothenburg (Sweden) in November 2017, is scheduled for May.

Adopted three years ago, the Social Rights Pillar advocates a fairer and more effective functioning of labour markets and social protection systems, including equal opportunities, access to the labour market, social protection, health care, lifelong learning, work-life balance and equal pay for men and women.

The European Commission is preparing its proposal for the action plan. It should formally present it within weeks, with the Portuguese presidency conducting the debate and negotiating a compromise among the EU27 to reach an agreement at the social summit in Porto in May.

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