Rebuilding after Covid 19 must include everyone – EFAy’s demands to European Governments

During the final week of April, on each day EFAy published a set of demands across our social media to protect young people, stateless nations and minorities. Rebuilding economies, entire sectors and communities after the Covid19 pandemic must include everyone.

After the 2008 financial crisis, the economic downturn created a culture of poor working conditions, precarious contracts and created a larger gap between rich and poor. What became normal then cannot be returned to as we rebuild after this pandemic. We must use the need to rebuild as an opportunity to create a Europe for all peoples, a Europe that’s fairer and economies that are inclusive of everyone.

Our demands related to specific areas from education, the workplace to mental health and funding for culture & languages.

The first demand relates to support for students.

Across Europe many degrees, courses and school qualifications have been affected by quarantine measures related to Covid 19. We believe that students cannot be adversely affected, and we call on European Governments to provide support for students at all levels so that they are not disadvantaged in any way due to the current pandemic.

In addition, with a number of key sectors such as hospitality & retail being totally shut down, it is expected that many students who will face financial issues as a result, we believe that students who face financial issues should receive additional support such as rent assistance and breaks in tuition fee payments to alleviate the immense pressure financial difficulties can cause, so that these can concentrate on their studies.

Our second demand relates to young people at work:

We know that shutting down entire economies has caused significant pressures across all sectors, on large and small companies. No matter how long it takes to rebuild economies, we cannot revert to the exploitation especially of young people and migrant workers which occurred after the 2008 financial crash. EFAy are calling for people to be supported at work and for governments to legislate against poor and exploitative contracts without fair terms and conditions. We are also calling for legislation against poor working conditions. The priority should be to secure safe working environments and stable contract for all those in employment to build a Europe without exploitation.

Our third demand is to address the challenges caused by social distancing and lockdown measures:

The huge changes to how we live our lives along with job insecurity, bereavement and health fears are having an immense effect on people’s mental health and well-being. We’re calling for adequate mental health support to be in place for all to cope with isolation and social distancing, this support needs to continue as lockdown measures are eased.

A worrying statistic across the continent has been the increase in domestic violence cases through periods of isolation and social distancing, this worrying increase needs to be addressed through greater support networks for those at risk, additional policing resources and somewhere for domestic violence sufferers to be located which is safe and where they are not at risk of catching Covid-19.

Our fourth demand is for support to national & ethnic minorities communities as well as stateless nations:

These communities should not have to face the worst of any economic crisis caused by this pandemic. As was said in the introduction of this article, re-building economies must include everyone. In many European states, different countries, autonomous communities, regions and peoples are governed by devolved legislatures. These legislatures should receive the necessary funding to protect and support all citizens.

Finally, our fifth and final demand includes two specific points:

The first is for support to be maintained for collaborative study across borders including funding for the ERASMUS+ programme so that European students at all levels can benefit from a wider range of education institutions. The second echoes a point made in our fourth demand with an additional step to support cultural practises and minority languages. One of the worst affected sectors by this pandemic has been arts and culture and it is widely known that individuals, companies and institutions will need specific financial support to start up again. With any economic downturn there is a risk that funding for minority languages could be cut when budgets become tight, EFAy want to see guarantees that this will not be the case and that minority languages across Europe will be fully supported.

Written by Llŷr Williams – EFAy Secretary General