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Author: Social Europe Journal

“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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“The Many Faces Of Self-Employment In Europe” by Mathijn Wilkens

Mathijn Wilkens While the Europe 2020 strategy actively promotes entrepreneurial self-employment as a means to create good jobs, policy makers at national and EU level are actively looking at better social protection for self-employed workers. Understanding this paradox requires looking beyond the ‘self-employed’ label and acknowledging it as an umbrella term covering a widely differing group of workers. A new study by Eurofound shows that while some self-employed live up to the image of the entrepreneurial, independent workers who decide for themselves when and how to work, others are less fortunate and are stuck in precarious and dependent work...

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“More Attention Must Be Given To Europe’s Working Poor” by Daphne Ahrendt

Daphne Arendt In-work poverty increased during the economic and financial crisis that hit European shores in 2008. By 2014, ten per cent of European workers were at risk of poverty, up from eight per cent in 2007. Ten per cent is a significant figure: the working poor represent a substantial group that can’t be ignored. Just as disconcerting is the finding that 13 per cent of European workers are materially deprived. This latter measure helps to capture the impact of the crisis on people’s real living conditions. A new study by Eurofound looks at what it means to be...

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“Giving Juncker’s Proposed European Labour Authority Real Clout” by Zane Rasnača and Romuald Jagodziński

Zane Rasnača Every year the State of the Union speech (SOTEU) serves a certain purpose. This year it was all about encouragement and promise. It was all about promising ‘big things’ – more Schengen, better enforcement of the rule of law, fighting discrimination of consumers in Central and Eastern Europe, introducing an economy and finance minister for the Eurozone, establishing a common European Labour Authority (ELA) and so on. Some topics got more attention, some less. For example, the idea of a common economy and finance minister and combining two EU Presidencies into one received probably the most coverage....

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