Young People’s Access to Social and Economic Rights: Addressing the impact of the cost-of-living crisis

The Office of the Ombudsman was invited to participate in the 14th meeting of the COE-FRA-ENNHRI-EQUINET Collaborative Platform on Social and Economic Rights, held on 1 July 2024 in Vilnius, Lithuania. This pivotal event addressed the pressing issue of young people’s access to social and economic rights amidst the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. Particular attention was given to the protection of young people against poverty and social exclusion, housing, access to employment, and youth participation in policy and decision-making related to social and economic rights.

At this meeting, Mr Jurgen Cassar, Head of Communications and Research, represented the Office of the Ombudsman.

The meeting brought together representatives from the Council of Europe, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, National Human Rights Institutions, Equality Bodies, and various civil society organisations working with young people. This diverse gathering aimed to foster collaboration and develop comprehensive strategies to advance the rights and well-being of young people across Europe.

The Platform meeting was held a few days before the High-Level Conference on the European Social Charter, which will take place in Vilnius on 3 and 4 July 2024, under the auspices of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The main objectives of the meeting were:

  • To consider the potential of the European Social Charter and other European human rights instruments and standards to protect young people’s social and economic rights;
  • To discuss strategies to protect young people from poverty and social exclusion in the context of rising living costs, including their access to affordable housing solutions;
  • To analyse the specific challenges young people face in accessing employment in the context of the cost-of-living crisis;
  • To explore mechanisms to enhance the meaningful participation of young people in policy and decision-making processes in relation to social and economic rights;
  • To examine the longer-term impact and lifelong consequences of these early shortfalls on young people’s enjoyment of their social and economic rights;
  • To discuss the role of human rights defenders in preventing, mitigating, and monitoring the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on young people and their ability to propose possible solutions to mitigate its negative impact on young people’s social and economic rights.

The meeting discussed protecting young people from poverty and social exclusion, the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the social rights of young people under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and access to employment for young people. It also focused on fostering youth participation in policy and decision-making related to social rights.

At the end of the conference, a joint statement from the Council of Europe, the Fundamental Rights Agency, the European National Human Rights Institution Network, and Equinet Economics and Social Rights Platform was released. This statement was addressed to the High-Level Conference on the European Social Charter, organised under the auspices of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Platform called on governments to:

  • Recognise the fundamental importance of social rights and the European Social Charter as a human rights treaty of the Council of Europe, upholding human rights and promoting social justice throughout the continent by ratifying the Revised European Social Charter and accepting additional provisions.
  • Strengthen the European Social Charter monitoring mechanisms by ratifying the Revised Charter and accepting additional provisions, in particular those that reinforce the right to housing and the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion, accepting the collective complaints procedure, and strengthening dialogue and cooperation between the Charter organs, States Parties, National Human Rights Institutions, Equality Bodies, and civil society organisations.
  • Address social and economic inequalities by adopting comprehensive social policies to combat poverty and social exclusion, inadequate living conditions, and the cost-of-living crisis, emphasising the right to adequate and affordable housing as a fundamental element of human dignity and social cohesion.

The full statement can be found here.

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