Sunday 23 July 2017

'Divide between the lucky and the left out is splitting society up'

The report, from Social Justice Ireland, suggests the EU’s lack of a response to long-term unemployment and growing wage inequality is having a negative impact. (Stock picture)
The report, from Social Justice Ireland, suggests the EU’s lack of a response to long-term unemployment and growing wage inequality is having a negative impact. (Stock picture)

Gavin White

Failure to address social challenges is "undermining confidence in the European Union", according to a new report on social justice from an independent think tank.

The report, from Social Justice Ireland, suggests the EU's lack of a response to long-term unemployment and growing wage inequality is having a negative impact.

"Inequalities in Europe's social situation bring risks of a breakdown in social cohesion both within and between countries," Michelle Murphy, of Social Justice Ireland, said.

"Great disparities in wealth and power divide society into rich and poor, powerful and powerless.

"This weakens the bonds between people and divides society between the lucky and the left out."

Dr Sean Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland, said the new 110-page study showed that long-term unemployment was one of the most important challenges facing the EU.

"Almost 11 million people in the EU are long-term unemployed and 6.6 million have been unemployed for more than two years. This is a very worrying trend," he said. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Dr Healy said the basic income system could be an effective way of tackling "the digital revolution", a term used to describe technology taking the place of traditional employment.

"If you use the issue of driverless cars with hundreds of thousands of jobs to be lost in the future, there is going to be a need for change, with upskilling of people another important factor," he said.

Dr Healy also said "the context of the report becomes more important in light of Brexit".

Ms Murphy, who is the think tank's research and policy analyst, added: "The best performing member states in the EU in economic terms have ambitious and efficient social policies as a central part of their growth model.

"These countries have a total tax take well above the EU average and provide more opportunities for every individual to participate broadly in things like education, health services and the labour market.

"They are also some of the most competitive countries in the world, including Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands."

Irish Independent

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