Migrants and Social Protection Floors

jún 2 2015

International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) today represents a wide range of national and international (and European) member organisations that seek to advance social welfare, social development and social justice (founded in Paris as early as in 1928 under the name International Conference of Social Work).

International Council on Social Welfare Europe (ICSW Europe) is legally independent but closely and historically interconnected with Global ICSW. ICSW Europe mission is in line with the objectives of ICSW on global level, also with respect to mutual responsibility of each human being. The aim of the ICSW Europe is to work for sustainable social and economic development for everyone. ICSW Europe has manifold members involved in social justice, social rights and social cohesion. Among ICSW Europe members are national non-government organizations, regional, federal and local authorities, voluntary associations, institutes, researchers, citizen advocates, activists and practitioners.

International Council on Social Welfare is active and visible round the world. ICSW has different consultative statuses:

Within the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York, accredited is to the Food and Agriculture Organization to the UN (FAO) in Rome, the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.

ICSW together with sister organizations the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work organizes joint conferences. Next Joint World Conference Social Work, Education and Social Development will be in Seoul (Korea) in 2016.

International Council on Social Welfare Europe is an integral part of global ICSW and its independent status has since 2007. This move was prerequisite required by European structures. This allows the ICSW Europe to be a member of the European Platform of Social NGOs (Social Platform) in Brussels. ICSW Europe is also an active member of the Conference of International NGOs (INGO) at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg. ICSW Europe belongs to founding members of the European Network for Social Action (ENSACT). ENSACT newest activity is European Social Agenda Observatory and preparing report on social cohesion for Seoul joint conference.

International Council on Social Welfare Europe has many socially and caring oriented objectives. ICSW Europe members promote forms of social and economic development, (reduce poverty, hardship and vulnerability, especially amongst disadvantaged people). ICSW Europe with help of its member organizations strives for recognition and realization of fundamental rights (employment, income, food, shelter, education, health care and security). Another goal is promoting equality of opportunity, freedom of expression, freedom of association, participation and access to human services and oppose discrimination. Further, ICSW Europe promoting policies and programs, that strike an appropriate balance between social and economic goals and which respect cultural diversity. ICSW Europe makes efforts to strengthen civil society throughout the world to achieve these objects. ICSW Europe seeks implementation of these objects by governments, international organizations and non-governmental agencies in cooperation with its network of member organizations.

International Council on Social Welfare Europe main current priority is social protection supporting. Global ICSW actively deals in the NGO Coalition for Social Protection Floors based on the ILO Recommendation 202 from the year 2012. Universal demographic changes strengthens sustainability of future generation decent life. This has unpredictable influence on elderly care, and solidarity between generations. ICSW Europe cares about poverty reduction, working poor, support of the poorest, especially Roma people, refugees and homeless people, poverty in extreme rural areas and migration. ICSW would like to give better attention to social investments and to social entrepreneurship.

Migration and refugees issues belong now among “hot” and danger political topic in everyday life in Europe. Who is a migrant? Definitions of “migrant” vary in time and space among different environments, sources, and in the law. Migrants may be defined as foreign-born, foreign nationals, or people who have moved. The most important is distinguish between EU internal free movement of people and the “so called” third country immigration. The term “migrant” in public debate is extremely loose and often conflates issues of immigration, race, ethnicity, and asylum. The term “migrant workerˮ refers in the UN to a person who is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national.

We have to have in mind that all Europeans are migrants from historical point of view. Migrants are human beings with guaranteed social, economic, cultural rights. Almost none European country has ratified UN convention on protection of migrants. European reality is failure of promoted multiculturalism. Social state is in crisis mainly due to shortening of number taxpayers because of high unemployment rate, ageing influence and greediness and unwillingness of rich people to take responsibility for others. Economic and financial crisis since 2008 has been a direct result of selfishness. The best protection against refugee crisis is avoiding a war conflict. War areas and economic disaster are main sources of this crisis. All humans (poor or rich) and each country (small or great power) has joint responsibility.

Adoption, of the ILO Recommendation 202 from the year 2012 concerning National Floors of Social Protection by all EU member countries, is fully justified by the social situation in Europe. Nevertheless, not all of the European citizens benefited from the social protection floor. EU bodies must be also asked, to remind member states that they too have a commitment to keep the social protection floor (social minimum). For each Member State, the European Union should set a guaranteed minimum income level that is half of the median income observed in each country. ICSW Europe accepted this recommended threshold in Rennes in March 25, 2014. Europe remains an area with relatively high social rights. However, the rise of a worrying phenomenon should be noted. The rights are not being claimed, due to the introduction of too many “targeting” conditions and requirements. Overestimating of “addressing” represents jeopardizing of solidarity, human rights principle and social cohesion fundament of Europe. Universal social cover is an essential element of Social Protection Floors. The current situation is that not all EU citizens have an access to this yet and some of them no longer have an access to it.

Migrants are EU citizens as well who benefit from freedom of movement. We have to protect the right of free movement within EU (and European Economic Area) as one of the fundamental rights and reasons for European idea. Care must be taken to ensure that Europeans do not become victims of social dumping, as is the case too often and with having to respect also non-EU citizens. Social Protection Floors must also apply to all residents, no matter of country of origin. However, they often encounter a large number of barriers before they can really benefit from the social schemes to which they are entitled and such barriers needed to be removed. Illegal immigrants, who as such have no a priori rights to national systems, have to have guaranteed access to social protection that relies on humanitarian considerations. Humanity and solidarity cannot be punished as it happens frequently in many cases.

This was the reason why ICSW Europe decided to help with organization and actively participate in this International Expert Seminar with topic “Migrants and Social Protection Floors. Facilities and Obstacles to Access to different Welfare State Services in Time of Crisis” in Madrid.

Author: Asst. Prof. Dr. Miloslav Hetteš
President of International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW Europe)

The lecture Migrants And Social Protection Floors - Facilities and Obstacles to Access to Different Welfare State Services in Time of Crisis is from International Expert Seminar, Madrid, 23 April 2015. The presentation is in the attachment:

Introduction_Hettes_ICSW_Europe.pdf412.83 KB