S&D Euro MPs urge Commission to wake up on social policy

S and D Euro MPs urge Commission to wake up on social policy
Following a debate today in Strasbourg with Commissioner Olli Rehn, S&D Euro MPs voiced concerns over the Commission's lack of commitment to easing the social effects of austerity policies across Europe. 
Said French socialist and chairwoman of the employment and social affairs committee, Pervenche Berès:
"We were expecting the Commission to come up with realistic proposals today to strengthen the social dimension of the economic and monetary union, after they were given a mandate by EU heads of state and government.
"But Mr Rehn obviously had nothing to announce – only empty words. No proposals, no roadmap, no calendar. This is not acceptable.
"The Commission doesn't seem to realise how dramatic the unemployment situation is in Europe – there are more than 19.2 million people out of a job just in the eurozone. This Commission is not up to the challenge.
"It has nothing to offer to change this situation but austerity – and allowing a brain drain of young people leaving Europe.
"We are calling for the introduction of a European minimum unemployment benefit in eurozone countries to help those who have lost their job to survive".
Said S&D spokesman for social affairs Alejandro Cercas:
"One of the key principles of the European Union is promoting social progress and welfare. The impact of austerity policies is destroying people's confidence in Europe.
"We are calling for a change of direction. The eurozone must be built on a strong social union. Today we need less austerity and more growth, jobs and social justice in Europe.
"That is why the S&D Group has set out plans to strengthen the social dimension of the eurozone ahead of the crucial meeting of heads of state and government in June.
"We are calling for binding targets to fight unemployment and reduce poverty and social exclusion.
"We also demand that EU governments invest at least 6% of their GDP in education and 3% in research and development. EU governments have agreed targets to bring down their deficits to 3% of GDP, but they should also commit to investing for the future.
"Shifting Europe towards a social union is the only way to avoid people turning their backs on the European project."
The S&D Group has recently adopted proposals to strengthen the social dimension of the EMU. They can be found here.