The gap between rich and poor can be a fact of life, but is unacceptable as a starting point. The equal opportunity to build a better, more educated and prosperous life is at the heart of the European way of life.

 

- What can the European Union and the Member states do to build a “ladder of equal opportunities” for all?

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Please try to be as concrete as possible when answering the questions, the more in depth you go the more impactful your ideas will be!

Comments

Between many problems included in the subject, I think that it is particularly unacceptable that unpaid internships still exist. The fact that the job market is highly competitive means that someone with no experience will have to submit themselves to basically slavery in an unpaid internship that is most of the times the only opportunity that they are accepted for, which they obviously see as their only choice as a start, but which often means that only people with family financial support can take these positions. It is completely unacceptable that young people are expected to go through a step in their professional lives that obviously only take if they don't belong to the so called poor class. It is necessary for the EU to create legislation forbidding unpaid internships, making it mandatory to have at least some symbolic payment in every position in which a person provides work force, as everyone deserves to be remunerated for their work and young people are no exception. It would also help if the EU would create programmes that could help young people to start their adult lives regardless of their family's financial conditions. This is already done with Erasmus+ and paid internships in the EU but it can be developed and improved very much, for example through the creation of paid positions for young people in different sectors not only in EU institutions but also in every member State with EU funding (or the allocation of a percentage of EU funds that each country already gets). Another example would be the creation of legislation that demands from countries the development of programmes to support young people (easy access to loans for unemployed young people, the creation of very cheap housing options for young people with low or even no income, the mandatory creation of legislation to facilitate the employment of young people, the creation of good conditions for students like allowances and cheap of free housing for people that come from family in the limiar of poverty, mandatory development of projects that create jobs and studies for young people in isolated parts of the countries to avoid the big obstacle of moving away from home and the costs that it means). Member states shouldn't be allowed to think of young people like they have a support system because many of them don't have it. Everyone should be allowed to at least try to start their adult lives, regardless of their family's help. Moreover, I believe that to tackle this problem from the root the EU should make an effort together with the member states to improve the education system, not only the school system but a much broader sense, like extracurricular programmes that would complement children's education in adjustment to their different needs. Inequality starts at home when children don't get equal support for their mainstream education provided in schools, due to different family conditions that they might have. Member states should be obliged to provide a real mentorship to every child in order for each of them to develop to their fullest potential regardless of the education follow-up that they might or might not have at home.

Votes: 13

I think that housing is definitely important for equality of opportunities. We tend to underestimate its importance. Let's think of two families. One can afford to rent or buy a decent house, that offers safety and security, the other family (usually poor and/or part of a minority) can only access housing with poor living conditions, that takes a significant chunk of the family budget. In the first case, housing helps the youngsters in the family make a better use of all the other resources and activities they have, while in the second case, housing is a source of stress. Since education is one of the main ladders of social mobility today, children that are raised in the family that is in the second situation can have their performance at school affected by their deficit in housing - which is already affecting other areas of their lives, which in turn affect education (e.g., space for privacy, thermal isolation which is related to comfort but also to health). If we move on to the case of people in homeless, it becomes even more clear how housing is central to life in society. Many people cannot find jobs because they can't access a home, and because they cannot have/rent a home, they cannot find a job or get access to some services (they are often stigmatized). I am sure that the EU can do much more in favour of the right to housing in its Member-States. Current EU policy in the area is extremely weak. EU bodies, such as the European Parliament and the Social and Economic Committee, have called for the adoption of concrete measures to fight homelessness. None of the major recommendations, such as an European agency to fight homelessness, seem to have been adopted. The European Social and Economic Committee has called for more money from the EU funding instruments to be dedicated to address homelessness and even the lack of housing. A very concrete suggestion that I can make, although not perfect is: an EU programme that recovers abandoned buildings, in partnership with local authorities and even businesses, and that transforms them into social housing projects, with the collaboration/participation of potential beneficiaries.

Votes: 14