Brussels, 22 February 2018 

The European Sunday Alliance organised in the European Parliament a breakfast meeting on the role of common free time for civic engagement and volunteering. The event, hosted by the MEPs Evelyn Regner (S&D) and Thomas Mann (EPP), highlighted the challenge of reconciling social commitment with increasingly flexibilised working schedules.

About 40 participants exchanged ideas, experiences and statistics with speakers from the trade unions and the voluntary sector, shaping a dialogue on the changing world of work and its effects on social and civic engagement in Europe.

Presenting her latest report on working time reduction, Agnieszka Piasna from the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) showed that collective free time is closely related to well-being and civic engagement. “It helps EU citizens to spend more time in activities that promote personal growth and community involvement”, stressed the ETUI senior researcher. Chris Droogenbroeck from the Belgian service sector trade union LBC-NVK was therefore rather critical that online activism could replace local civic engagement, which he acknowledged to see declining in the trade union sector due to more flexible working schedules and increased pressure in the job. The results of the recent survey among ESA members on Sunday rest and overtime hours have shown a similar picture.

While confirming that also volunteering is in decline, Gabriella Civico from the European Volunteer Centre (CEV) suggested that organisations should also adjust to the new realities and allow for other, more flexible ways of volunteering.

The breakfast event was the 6th meeting of the Interest Group on Work-life Balance, which the European Sunday Alliance launched in 2015 to raise awareness for the need of EU actions on a better articulation of private, family and work life.

FAFCE is a member of the steering Committe of the European Sunday Alliance (ESA). The ESA is a network of national Sunday Alliances, trade unions, employers’ organisations, civil society organisations, churches and religious communities committed to raise awareness of the unique value of synchronised free time for our European societies.

The original article with more info and photos can be found on the official website of the European Sunday Alliance.