Access to social protection is at the heart of European social policy. Several of the 20 key principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights highlight the right to adequate social protection for all Europeans.
Social protection systems provide protection against the risks and needs associated with unemployment, sickness, parenthood and social exclusion. These situations can happen to any of us throughout our lives. However, full social protection may not, due to the various conditions attached, be available to young people who have not yet been economically active or who have only recently entered the world of work.
This ESPN Synthesis Report examines how eligibility conditions and benefit entitlements for social protection influence young peoples’ access to social protection. It provides a factual overview of the cash benefits available under five schemes:
- maternity, paternity, parental leave
- sickness and healthcare
- Guaranteed Minimum Income
The report highlights the main gaps and obstacles that young people may face in accessing these benefits. It covers the 27 EU Member States, the UK, and the 7 candidate and potential candidate countries.
According to the report findings, the main gaps in accessing benefits relate to age and activity status. Activity status-based criteria prevent young people’s access to contributory benefits more frequently than age-based criteria, which are of importance mainly in the case of unemployment benefits. Non-standard workers, trainees and apprentices are most often de facto excluded due to their activity status.
The report distinguishes between three types of obstacles to accessing benefits:
- procedural barriers
- barriers related to activity status
- barriers affecting particular groups
A series of specific actions to be considered at national and/or EU levels to address these barriers are proposed in the report.