Mrs. Emily O’Reilly
Vienna, 10th January 2017
We are writing to you on an issue that is of great importance for roughly estimated 50 millions of unemployed people.
Practically under exclusion of the public, the European Commission launched a "public consultation on the provision of services for the long-term unemployed" on 19th February, 2015, which ended only 3 months later, on 15th May, 2015. For comparison: The public consultation about the "European Pillar of Social Rights” took 9 months!
The European Commission systematically excludes the unemployed affected by this:
The questionnaire and related information are available only in English, even though among the long-term unemployed, the proportion of people with a low level of language skills is particularly high!
The information on this public consultation was available only on the European Commission's website. The European Commission did not actively involve the unemployment initiatives all over Europe. In the texts on the "public consultation", the unemployed are not directly addressed in any word, although it is precisely these people that should be involved in this matter and whose active cooperation is necessary for success! “Active Unemployed Austria” was the only self organization of unemployed that took part in this “public” consultation!
In contrast to most other groups, the unemployed have no lobby in the EU at all. The development of independent, self-acting organizations and their networking is neither supported by national governments nor by the EU. That is why the over 50 million unemployed have absolutely no voice in the EU.
The questions are one-sided and manipulative. They serve primarily to justify the business of the course industry and not to improve the situation of the unemployed, which were not involved in the elaboration of the questionnaire. The closed questions are totally out of context and completely pointless. An individualization of services for long-term unemployed people makes sense only if they are carried out on a voluntary basis between people of equal status. This "activation" programmes become counterproductive when imposed under the existing imbalance of powers. Our human rights are redefined to "common duties", which are nothing more than an act of violence. The question of the increase in the rate of participation, the duration and the number of activating measures is, without mentioning the basic conditions, completely meaningless and misleading!
The European Commission does not have any regulatory competence in the field of unemployment insurance and is trying to enforce its neoliberal activation and enforcement regime in an unreasonable way.
The European Commission completely ignores the rights of consultation of and co-determination by the unemployed laid down in international conventions. These include the "ILO Convention 122 – Convention on Employment Policy"1 and "ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)"2, in particular the contribution of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights "Report IV (2B) Promotion of and respect for dignity: a briefing note ")3:
"States must put in place adequate mechanisms for beneficiaries to participate in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of social protection programs. Participatory mechanisms must ensure that participation is authentic, takes into account the existing asymmetries of power within the community and is tailored to ensure the broadest participation possible by vulnerable and disadvantaged groups."
Not only the different states but also the European Union has to respect this human rights approach!
Furthermore, the "basic paper" is one-sided and manipulative. It impels the unemployed to lose competences, to accumulate obstacles and to become inactive, in an almost stigmatizing manner with the duration of unemployment. Such socially discriminating prejudices are completely unacceptable in a democratic society!
Although the human right of freely chosen work is established in at least five international conventions, these human rights are not mentioned in the public consultation. The unemployed are treated as completely unprotected people by the European Commission. We are nowhere directly addressed as people with rights and their own interests.
Thus, the European Commission is responsible for the victims of their own neoliberal policies, victims which have been neglected and let down by the responsible authorities. It conceals the real causes of unemployment in Europe. Alternatives to "activation" in the fight for the very few jobs - such as the reduction of working hours or the unconditional basic income - are completely ignored. The questionnaire also raises no question about alternatives to the "activation", which is propagated by the European Commission from above and in practice is enforced by the threat of the destruction of existence through sanctions.
The living conditions of the unemployed in Europe are deliberately concealed: the massive pressure (coercion) and the threat to human health by means of human rights violations and workfare, which in the worst case may result in the death or suicide of the unemployed people. Even severely disabled and disabled people are driven into the labour market by means of force. In the UK, thousands of people have already died after having been declared “fit to work”, so that the UN (United Nations) have started an investigation of their own about human rights violations in this member state of the EU!
This deeply undemocratic and violent policy is directed against all European workers. The European Commission with all its power is trying to force all people into the neoliberal labour market, where pressure is constantly increasing, to sell their life as a "labour force" commodity at any price - despite the fact that article 1 of the ILO declaration of Philadelphia says absolutely unmistakably: “labour is not a commodity”!
Unfortunately, the European Commission did not show any willingness to remedy the maladministration reported in a complaint filed by the association "Active Unemployed Austria". Unfortunately he answer of the European Commission was totally nonsensical and contained only general appeasing flaps.
In the consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Commission is highly manipulative and tries again to enforce the individual 'agreements' imposed on unemployed people under the imbalance of power, too.
We therefore require:
Restart the "public consultation" with the full participation of the European unemployed initiatives!
Consultations and information of the EU must be given in all national languages (including minority languages) as well as in the most important languages of the immigrants. Entries also in paper form and Braille!
Promote the development and networking of unemployment initiatives in Europe so that unemployed people finally have their own voice!
Develop human rights standards for social and employment policies and standards for the full democratic participation and self-representation of the unemployed in labor market policy at all levels in Europe.
Enforce an independent and critical special examination of the labour market policy in the EU, in particular with regard to the "activation regime" and the sanctions regime.
Start an action plan for the enforceable implementation of human rights, in particular the abolition of the permanent threat of existence through sanctions (inhuman cuts of unemployment benefits or social benefits).
Enlarge the agenda of the European Fundamental Rights Agency to social human rights.
If, by the way, the result of the public consultation on the European Social Pillar is as unsatisfactory as the consultation of services for the long-term unemployed, we have no alternative but to conclude that the European Union can no longer be reformed and is moving further in the direction of a neoliberal economic dictatorship. So we are left with nothing but fighting for a democratic revolution in Europe. The policy of the EU Troika against Greece has already revealed extremely drastically the dictatorial and completely inhuman character of the ruling EU elites.
In case you are not authorized to deal with this complaint, we declare our agreement to forward this matter to the authority responsible.
With kind regards,
Active Unemployed Austria