Florence, May 9 - Italian House Speaker Laura Boldrini spoke up in defence of labor rights and young people at a conference devoted to the state of the European Union on Thursday. "We must reinforce, not empty, the European social model with its emphasis on protecting, not undoing, those in need, and on safeguarding the rights of workers," Boldrini said. She went on to call for reforming labor laws that allow for the current glut of temporary job contracts available to the country's youth, who suffer from 38% unemployment according to the Italian statistics agency Istat. "We must respond to the effects of austerity measures with political change before it's too late," she said. "The south of Europe, my country Italy as well as Greece, Spain and Portugal, needs more welfare and not less in order to counter the effects of the crisis. "If we don't take these steps, the social fabric of Europe is at risk and our youth will be considered the lost generation".