This chapter describes how the social rights which, according to the treaties, EU citizens possess, find expression in a Union which is suffering not just from an economic crisis, but from a crisis of confidence as well. The author argues that the confidence crisis itself puts limits on the prospects for realizing these rights, and undermines the solidarity between member states articulated in the Union’s basic treaties. The analysis in the chapter makes clear that the member states have taken a cautious line on the question of European social rights. Furthermore, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has found this to be a tricky and difficult area, and has hesitated to enter it. It is therefore crucial, the author contends, that the member states themselves take the next step. Within a framework of mutual cooperation, they must actively interpret and utilize the basic rules which have a bearing on social rights.
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Jenny Julén Votinius
This chapter addresses the differences in prosperity and well-being that follow from the high levels of youth unemployment in the EU. Not only do the member states that were hardest hit by the economic crisis have the highest levels of youth unemployment; equally important is the rapidly widening prosperity gap between generations in Europe’s labour market. The author reviews the many EU-level initiatives taken to combat youth unemployment following the crisis. Her analysis underlines the risks involved in adopting legislative reforms that weaken employment protection specifically for young employees. Reforms of this kind have worsened the prosperity gap between generations, since they mean that younger employees receive lower salaries and enjoy less job security than their older counterparts. Against this background, the author argues, it is essential that fundamental social rights are observed in relation to all citizens, including young persons in the EU’s workforce.