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European Parliamentary breakfast on the protection of a work-free Sunday in Europe

On April 10, the European Sunday Alliance – a broad European coalition of trade unions, employers' associations, social NGOs and church organisations campaigning for synchronised free time in Europe – held a European Parliamentary breakfast on the protection of a work-free Sunday in the EU.

The event was hosted by MEPs Miriam Lexmann and Tomáš Zdechovský (EPP) and came ahead of the European elections in June. On the occasion of the European Day for a Work-Free Sunday on 3 March, the members of the European Sunday Alliance had already launched an election manifesto that calls on European decision-makers to work at national and Brussels level to ensure that Sunday protection is as consistent as possible.

The event in the European Parliament served to highlight in particular how, from different perspectives, a protection of synchronised free time – in other words a work-free Sunday – is a worthy matter, not least also as a tool to fight loneliness. It also flagged substantial challenges that however exist in practice on many fronts to protect synchronised free time, a work-free Sunday, and thus to fight loneliness. It stressed that with employment patterns and working times becoming ever more scattered, with social media and digitalisation and online life becoming ever more central, societies need to be careful that loneliness and individualisation do not become a New Normal in private and economic life.

Members of the European Sunday Alliance made clear: Loneliness is in many cases undesired by affected persons and therefore a negative matter – and a tool to fight this is to ensure synchronised free time, to protect a work-free Sunday, to provide alternatives to solitary online life, to ensure that retired people, workers, their families, their children can again spend more time together.

Speakers included Béatrice D’Hombres (Project Coordinator ‘Fairness and Loneliness’ at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, JRC), Stefan Eirich (President of the German Catholic Workers’ Movement, KAB) and Antonella Sinagoga (Expert on Parish and Family for the Salesian Youth Ministry Department). It was moderated by representatives of organisations that constitute the European Sunday Alliance’s steering committee, Franziska Kuster (Protestant Church in Germany, EKD), Hendrik Meerkamp (European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions, CESI), Alix de Wasseige (Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the EU, COMECE) and Maria Waszkiewicz (Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, FAFCE).

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