Social Services Europe launched a position paper on the key role social services play in making the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality at the European Parliament on April 24th. 10 out of the 20 principles gathered under the Social Pillar need or have social services involved and cannot be achieved without those, such as active support to employment, inclusion of people with disabilities or work-life balance. The report aimed to highlight their role and get the EU to take actions to support the sector, including ensuring that future EU funds have resources for social services.
The debate was possible thanks to the collaboration of Members of the European Parliament such as MEP Georgi Pirinski (S&D), MEP Sofia Ribeiro (EPP) and members of the cabinet of Commissioner Thyssen, in charge of the Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Department in the Commisison. The event was joined by representatives of the Social Protection Committee, the EU advisory policy committee of national experts from social and employment ministries, and civil society organisations. A presentation followed by a constructive debate shaped the morning leaving key messages from the representatives of the EU institutions. These messages showed clear support to the role of social services providers in making the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality but also, supporting the need for investment in the sector and the need for policies that are aligned to give priority to the social sector in Europe and can overall help to guaranteeing a more inclusive society.
Representatives from the EU institutions highlighted the importance of combining legislation, funding and governance in order to make the Social Pillar a reality and stressed a common recognition at the EU institutions about the need to invest in people. The Social Protection Committee, mentioned the Social Pillar needs mutual learning and exchange of best practices in the implementation of the different rights.
The European Pillar of Social Rights has brought back the focus on quality, affordability and accessibility of services after a period marked by prioritising the cost-effectiveness in the sector. Social Services Europe stressed a greater emphasis on care based on how to provide it more than how to afford it should shape European policies addressed at tackling the demographic change in Europe. Social Services presented recommendations to be found on the position paper on how services should be supported to play this role. It also includes examples on how services implement social rights, incuding a practice from EPR member AFID on supporting young people with disabilities in education. The paper stresses the importance of supporting quality services.
Political will is needed at European national and local level to both make the Social Pillar a reality and drive Europe back to leading towards a more social path contained at the heart of its treaties. Investing in data collection, using public procurement rules comprehensively and co-producing services looking carefully at the contributions users can make in service design can shape successful service delivery of the future.