The social policy sphere has never been one where the European institutions were given much power to act. At most what the European Commission can do is recommend a line of action to the member states and fix, in various official documents and treaties some guidelines for the development of legislation aiming, among other things, at diminishing the number of the poor or the unemployed.
Yesterday morning, after a politically charged Sunday which announced that the Francois Hollande has won the first round of the French presidential elections, the Euractiv news site announced that Eurostat (European Union's statistics agency) published a new set of figures measuring this time the level of the "underemployment" in the European Union.
The article raises several very interesting questions. The first and most important one refers to the economic crisis. Is this indeed over and if not and we are still faced with difficulties how long will this last? The unemployment level seems to be on the rise and according to the quoted Eurostat report, part of the unemployed already stopped looking for a job.
If we couple these results with the declining demographics and the anti-immigration feelings at the EU level, we might end up asking ourselves what exactly will happen to for instance our pension funds? As the EU pension systems are pay-as-you go systems we might in the end need to work until later on in life diminishing thus the actual time spent during retirement. This idea has been currently taken into account in Poland where it generated an interesting debate. This is to be followed by an official legal debate in the Polish Sejm (Parliament) on April, 26th.
The second interesting question regards the data available in the Eurostat's report from the 19th of April, 2012. If more people employed in part-time jobs wished they could work more what should be done and at which level in order to ensure their safe transition to full employment? The issue however is not so simple as it depends on two important elements: the work culture (some countries already see an increase in the desire to work part-time) and the legislation. As the report does actually show the percentage of people employed part-time who would like to work more is higher in countries such as Greece or Latvia and much lower in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The last and actually one of the most important elements regards legislation. It is here where theoretically the European Union's institutions could play a stronger role. However, for the moment at least all that the European Commission can do is recommend courses of action to the member states. See for instance the debate about the minimum wage.
These are just some of the most recent social developments on the background of still shaky economic recovery and on-going elections in France, pending for next year in Germany and Italy. Additionally, the ideological fight between the federalists and the inter-governmentalists is likely to increase with more and more voices underlining the necessity to develop better political and economic cooperation within the EU.
So how will this work? Well the blog and the website will be for some time in an "ongoing" in progress state. Thus I would like to apologize for this in advance. Additionally I would like to invite all of those who will read the website to leave comments and suggestions on what it is that you (they) would like to know.
Since the purpose of the website is to bridge the information gap currently existing between the knowledge the citizens have of the European institutions and the information that the EU sends out, suggestions, comments, observations, etc are all welcome.
Writing about the European Union, its decision-making mechanisms and the way they all impact our lives is a challenging task which I welcome. As a Romanian citizen living in Poland and married to a Russian journalist, I have encountered my fair share of administrative problems to solve. Starting with how to get registered, what are my and my family's rights, where should I look for a job, how does the social security system function, will I get my pension in case I want to move to another EU country, etc, my family and I have been faced with many questions and a lot of time spent asking friends, family members, institutions and the world wide web in search for viable answers.
Some of my questions still remain without a valid solution, whilst for others I have already been able to find the right answer.
Having said this, I would like to point out to you how the website works and how it is structured. As you can easily observe the Home page is a live journal which I will try to keep updated with as much opinions as possible. Following that there is the Social Agenda page where I will be presenting information regarding social issues (EU institutions, employment, social security,etc). The Political Agenda will try to make more sense of the political programme at the EU level and how it works. This will be related directly to the Legislation section where I hope to present recent legislative acts and hopefully their impact on national legislation.
Last, but not least I have kept the Initiative section as a guide to interesting solutions coming from the civil society sphere.
Si deci cum va functiona site-ul? Blogul si site-ul in general vor fi pentru ceva vreme incomplete deoarece voi lucra tot timpul pentru a adauga noi informatii. Pentru acest lucru doresc sa imi cer scuze inca de pe acum. In afara acestui fapt as dori sa ii invit pe toti cei care vor vizita pagina mea web sa lase comentarii sau sugestii cu referire la ceea ce ar dori ei sa stie cu privire la Uniunea Europeana.
Cum scopul acestei pagini este acela de a clarifica informatiile care vin, atat din partea cetatenilor, cat si din partea institutiilor Uniunii Europene cu privire la procesele decizionale si implementarea lor, orice sugestie, comentariu, observatie va fi bine venita.
A scrie despre Uniunea Europeana, mecanismele sale de luare a deciziilor, precum si modul in care acestea au un impact asupra vietii noastre este o sarcina dificila pe care mi-o asum cu placere. Ca si cetatean roman locuind in Polonia si fiind casatorita cu un jurnalist rus m-am confruntat cu nenumarate probleme administrative. Incepand cu modul in care trebuie sa ma inregistrez, pana la care sunt drepturile mele si ale familiei mele, unde si cum as putea gasi de lucru, cum functioneaza aici sistemul de asigurari sociale, imi voi primi oare pensia daca voi decide sa locuiesc in alt stat membru al Uniunii Europene, familia mea si cu mine ne-am confruntat cu multe intrebari. Am vorbit cu prietenii, rudele, reprezentati ai institutiilor si am cautat informatii pe web in incercarea de a gasi solutii.
La unele probleme am gasit, iar pentru altele inca mai asteptam.
Acestea fiind spuse as dori sa descriu succint modul in care acest website functioneaza si cum este el structurat. Dupa cum puteti observa prima pagina este un jurnal (blog) unde voi incerca sa scriu cat mai des. Urmeaza apoi pagina Agenda Sociala in care voi descrie cum functioneaza mecanismele UE cu privire la chestiuni sociale (sistemul de pensii, asigurari sociale, etc). Apoi voi atinge problema dezvoltarii si functionarii sistemului politic in partea Agenda Politica. Aceasta va fi direct legata de sectiunea Legislatie unde voi incerca sa descriu acte normative importante si impactul pe care il au asupra procesului national legislativ.
Am pastrat categoria Initiative pentru a prezenta solutii care vin din partea societatii civile.
Many things can be said about the European Union, its institutions and its political leaders. It has complex decision-making mechanisms, it ensures freedom of movement, it is too demanding or maybe not strict enough. Some people want to leave it and others want to stay in it forever. Some people want to steer it towards a more inter-governmental design whilst others want more and more integration.
But, these are just general things describing the current political situation of the land we live in. How does all this look like from the communities' point of view? Do people really understand how it works? Is there sufficient information so that maybe one day we will be prepared to go multinational in our elections for the European Parliament?
These are just some of the questions this blog intends to answer and because the themes of study or interest in European Union are so many I have stopped at the two most important ones: social and political.
This blog will try to bring to light different kinds of ideas, concrete examples, models to follow as well as to attempt to explain the way in which most of our legislation is currently produced and how, just how exactly it all works together.
I hope you will all be joining me down the path into this wonderful journey towards the discovery of this magical land which the experts call social reality.
Multe lucruri pot fi spuse despre Uniunea Europeana, institutiile sale si oamenii politici europeni. Uniunea foloseste mecanisme complexe in luarea deciziilor, asigura libertatea de miscare a tuturor membrilor sai, poate fi uneori prea aspra prin cerintele sale sau alteori nu indeajuns de stricta. Unii oameni vor sa o paraseasca, pe cand altii ar dori sa traiasca aici pentru totdeauna. Unii doresc sa dezvolte un mecanism interguvernamental de coordonare a politicilor sale, pe cand altii vor din ce in ce mai multa integrare.
Dar, toate aceste lucruri sunt in general cunoscute si descriu foarte pe larg realitatea politica a bucatii de pamant pe care traim. Cum arata insa totul din punctul de vedere al comunitatilor? Oamenii de rand chiar inteleg ei cum Uniunea functioneaza? Este oare intr-adevar atat de multa informatie in asa fel incat sa putem sa ajungem vreodata sa votam multinational pentru Parlamentul European?
Acestea sunt numai cateva din intrebarile la care acest blog intentioneaza sa raspunda si pentru ca temele de studiu sau interes asupra Uniunii Europene sunt multe eu m-am oprit numai la cele mai importante: sfera sociala si cea politica.
Acest blog va incerca sa puna in evidenta moduri noi de gandire, exemple concrete, modele de urmat, dar va incerca in acelasi timp sa explice modul in care legislatia nationala este produsa si cum exact totul reuseste sa functioneze impreuna.
Sper ca ma veti urma pe micul, dar minunatul drum al cunoasterii acestei realitati pe care expertii o numesc realitatea sociala.
Hello! My name is Ruxandra. I am a sociologist with a passion for European Union. Welcome to my blog!