Thorbjørn Jagland: Europe needs growth and social rights

In a keynote speech today in Belgium, Thorbjørn Jagland has urged Europe’s leaders not to abandon social rights in their race for growth.

Addressing the Brussels conference on the Future of the Protection of Social Rights in Europe, the Secretary General warned against an increasing “us versus them” mindset, accompanied by a “deep economic frustration” and the “growing feeling that Europe is being divided into clear winners and losers.”

Jagland said: “Some countries are growing steadily. Some even have more people working than ever before.

“Yet in other European states around half – half – of all young people still cannot find jobs. Within many countries we are also seeing see worsening inequality. People are despairing. After years of austerity and sacrifice, they know more is still to come.

“Newcomers are blamed for the lack of opportunities. Institutions are discredited for failing to ‘do something’ about it. Mainstream politics is shunned.

“Division, nationalism, class warfare, xenophobia, envy, radicalism – these forces become increasingly appealing.

“So, against this backdrop, I ask all of you to renew your commitment to the rights enshrined in the European Social Charter.

“Yes, Europe needs economic policies which promote growth. Of course. But part of our response has to be showing people that we see their hardships and anxieties and we are willing to act.”

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