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Author: Social Europe Journal

“Universal Basic Income: Definitions And Details” by Malcolm Torry

Malcolm Torry On November 23, Social Europe published an article by Bo Rothstein entitled ‘UBI: A bad idea for the welfare state’. It sets out from a definition of ‘Unconditional Universal Basic Income’ (UUBI) as ‘every citizen will be entitled to a basic income that frees them from the necessity of having a paid job’; and it adds the details that the level of UBI would be £800 per month, and that ‘all means-tested programs for those who cannot support themselves through paid work can be abolished’. Rothstein correctly identifies as an advantage of such a reform that it...

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“Europe – A World-Class Place To Live And Work?” by Juan Menéndez-Valdés

Juan Menéndez-Valdés ‘A world-class place to live and work.’ That is how President Juncker described Europe at the summit to formally proclaim the EU Pillar of Social Rights in Gothenburg last month. And he added: ‘Europe is more than just a single market, more than money … It is about our values and the way we want to live’. So how do we live? Do the 510 million Europeans across the current 28 Member States really feel that their living conditions are ‘world-class’? Certainly, many do. But many others still face inequalities and feel excluded or insecure, worry about...

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“From The Gothenburg Social Summit To A European Social Union” by Frank Vandenbroucke

Frank Vandenbroucke (photo by Jeroen Oerlemans) On 17 November, the European Parliament, Council and Commission proclaimed a European Pillar of Social Rights in Gothenburg. The launch of the Pillar signals a cautious but steady paradigm shift, away from austerity, at least at the level of the Commission. But will it lead to tangible results? In essence, this paradigm shift is a fresh attempt to answer the challenges created by monetary integration. The upshot of the new thinking is that monetary unification imposes a degree of convergence in key features of the Member States’ social and employment policies. Admittedly, the...

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“The Illusion Of Freedom In The Digital Age” by Mark Leonard

Mark Leonard Over the last few weeks, media around the world have been saturated with stories about how technology is destroying politics. In autocracies like China, the fear is of ultra-empowered Big Brother states, like that in George Orwell’s 1984. In democracies like the United States, the concern is that tech companies will continue to exacerbate political and social polarization by facilitating the spread of disinformation and creating ideological “filter bubbles,” leading to something resembling Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In fact, by bringing about a convergence between democracy and dictatorship, new technologies render both of these dystopian visions...

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“We Need A Strong ‘Social Pillar’ To Support Working People” by Luca Visentini

Luca Visentini The ‘European Pillar of Social Rights’: it could be a fine example of Euro-jargon masking very little substance, or it could be a chance for the European Union to turn a corner and demonstrate that its main priority is to promote social progress and a better life for European workers and citizens. The proof of the pudding will largely be in the way the pillar is implemented, including at national level. On 17 November, in Gothenburg, Sweden, EU leaders will ‘proclaim’ the much-debated social pillar. It will be the culmination of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s 2014...

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“EU Social Pillar: A (Potential) New Start For Europe” by Juan Menéndez-Valdés

Juan Menéndez-Valdés When EU Heads of State and Government gather in Gothenburg this week to debate fair jobs and growth, it will be the first such ‘social summit’ in 20 years. At the heart of the agenda will be the formal proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights – 20 principles focused on equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. It is to serve as a ‘compass for a renewed process of convergence towards better working and living conditions among Member States’ taking account of the changing realities of...

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“The EU Should Stop Turning A Blind Eye To The Platform Economy’s Social Challenges” by Dominika Biegoń, Wolfgang Kowalsky and Joachim Schuster

Dominika Biegoń Ever since the Commission declared the creation of a Digital Single Market (DSM) as a key priority of the current legislature, it has gained salience at most high-ranking EU meetings, figuring again at the most recent European Council meeting. As in the past, the summit DSM debate followed a well-known pattern: often very technical and one-sided, favoring the interests of digital businesses – the latest initiative for a more effective and fairer tax regime for digital big players is a noteworthy exception. The DSM social dimension and the interests of workers are so far largely ignored. This...

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“Trade Unions Are Ready To Tackle The Digital Challenge” by Thiébaut Weber

Since award-winning physicist Stephen Hawking first warned that artificial intelligence (AI) could spell the end of humanity, other experts have echoed his cataclysmic forecast. In the meantime, for many workers, the day-to-day impact of digital technologies is much more pedestrian, if sometimes almost as threatening. Yet, alongside the risks, trade unions believe that if managed in the right way, digitalisation could offer new and less arduous job opportunities and better working conditions. At present, however, online platforms, robotisation and crowdwork are increasing the likelihood of job destruction in industry, precarious work with no social protection, labour market segmentation, involuntary...

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