“The increasing gap between European citizens and the European institutions requires a strong Left in the European Parliament with strong views and different policies to meet citizens' expectations,” said GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer opening the GUE/NGL study days in Florence today.

She described the group's study days as “an important opportunity to look at Italy in greater depth and for dialogue with trade unions, experts, academics and civil society”.

“After years of crisis and austerity we are trying to turn things around,” said Italian MEP Eleonora Forenza, stressing the importance of the link-up between “the political forces of the Left and civil society so that we can come up with an idea of society that we can all agree to”.

She spoke about the current situation in Italy where industrial unrest has returned in force during a “powerful attack on the constitution with serious consequence for labour laws”.  She said that people were taking to the streets in great numbers to protest against the new and insecure forms of work, massive layoffs, particularly in multinationals.

“We have to look at the possibility and the need to win back workers' rights, we need answers to unemployment and to ensure that a minimum hourly wage and a standard European wage are part of both workers' and citizens' rights in Europe.”

For French MEP Patrick Le Hyaric, “there can be no viable project to build Europe unless young people are on board”.
“Today EU policies are leading youth to be marginalised in every way,” he said during the second part of the debate which focused on youth unemployment.

He spoke about the 6 million unemployed young people in Europe today and the 7.5 million with little or no qualifications, who were being used to attack social and labour rights. “There is a move to create a more flexible workforce with this generation who will adapt to changes in the economy and where work itself will be part of the market rather than a means of emancipation for people,” he said.

Among the proposals he put forward, MEP Le Hyaric called for giving young people opportunities for training and retraining to meet new production systems, such as in the digital and environmental sectors. He also called for an autonomy allowance for young people to fund housing, education or training and job security combined with training, and not the flexisecurity that has been the neoliberal norm up until now.

GUE/NGL Press Contacts in Florence:
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
Gianfranco Battistini +32 475 64 66 28
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group

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