When MEP Alejandro Cercas set out to write a report about the impact of Troika policies in bailout countries, he wanted to hear directly from the people affected. Through the EP's LinkedIn discussion group, the Spanish member of the S&D group invited contributions, several of which made it into the draft approved by the employment committee on 13 February. Mr Cercas said these included suggestions for measures to tackle homelessness and a call to consult civil society on health sector reforms.
The discussion on LinkedIn has been taking place since December 2013 on the page titled "Your turn: advise Parliament on social impact in bailout countries". Not only has Mr Cercas been receiving direct feedback from people and been listening to their personal experiences, he was also made aware of studies on povery and human rights that helped him to write his report.
The 79 comments posted prior to the vote revealed concerns about fundamental rights being undermined in bailout countries, the lack of democratic legitimacy of the decisions taken and the hardship resulting from austerity measures, which have led to a rise in unemployment, poverty, social exclusion and homelessness.
“What most struck me in our Linkedin debate was the anger towards Europe,” Mr Cercas said in a press conference after the committee vote. “The EP was completely shut out of the decision process, but the citizens of Europe think that it was Europe who did it. Many see Europe in the hands of bankers… Europe is not seen as something that can help you sort out the problem, but rather a part of the problem.”
The report adopted by the employment committee calls on member States and the EU to put in place plans to create jobs and improve social protection standards in the affected countries – Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus- and asks the European Commission to carry out a detailed study of the social and economic consequences of the crisis and the Troika adjustment programmes.
MEPs will vote on the report during the March plenary.