Fifth of a series of citizens’ consultations held on various social aspects

Another of a series of citizens’ consultations organised by MEUSAC on the future of the EU was held on October 25, the focus being a number of social aspects, including the minimum wage, equality, employment laws, the skills gap and the cost of living.

The consultations are being held in Malta and in Member States on the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron. MEUSAC has been tasked to organise these events in Malta.

Minister for European Affairs and Equality Helena Dalli said that the aim of such consultations was to have the citizens do the talking and that the wide consultation is living proof that the government is bringing citizens closer to the EU. As a result, the government is placing citizens at the heart of its work on a European level.

On his part, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia explained that MEUSAC was helping bring citizens closer to the EU in a number of ways. He referred to Erasmus+ funds that are helping hundreds of youth in projects leading to a number of experiences overseas while the elder generation is benefiting from the European for Citrizens Programme.

MEUSAC Head Dr Vanni Xuereb said that following these consultations, the final one being on November 9 with the Prime Minister, a report will be compiled by MEUSAC and forwarded to the European Council by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for consideration by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, a number of those present aired their views on various social aspects, including on employment where it was stated that the EU was doing a lot when it comes to the employment sector but employment laws needed to reflect the ever-increasing changes in the labour market. “Workers also need protection, especially in areas where employees are providing a service on behalf of an ‘anonymous’ employer, as they won’t know who their contractor actually is,” a stakeholder said, adding that for the European project to move forward, the Pillar of Social Rights has to be implemented effectively.

“European citizens should not only enjoy economic progress but should have the right to enjoy a good quality life and have a good work-life balance”. “We are seeing several cases of workers experiencing burn-out and mental health problems,” a trade unionist said.

Reference was also made to the minimum wage and that it should be increased in all Member States, and that low wages in low-skilled jobs badly affect productivity, apart from leading to a low-quality life for such employees. Attention should also be given to the future of young artists who are highly qualified but do not find job opportunities in their areas of study. Emphasis was also made on the dire need for highly-skilled persons and on reducing the gender pay gap.

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