The European Policy Centre, in cooperation with the Coordinated Action on Social Services, an Alliance of European organisations providing social services, hosted an online Policy Dialogue on April 29th. The aim of this dialogue was to discuss the place the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) have in guiding the shape of the European recovery from covid-19; the role and support of social services; and the expectations for the Porto Social Summit, where Member States, European institutions, social partners and civil society will discuss the implementation of the Action Plan for the EPSR.
The meeting started by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Policy Centre and President Emeritus of the European Council, who emphasised the new inequalities covid-19 has brought, and highlighted social services’ vital role and the difficulties health care faces due lack of funding.
The dialogue continued by Andriana Sukova, Deputy Director for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European Commission, who agreed with H. Van Romouy’s speech, and pointed out the need for commitment from the national authorities to ensure the investment and reinforcement of social services and the achievement of the EPSR principles.
The discussion was followed by Heather Roy, Secretary General of Eurodiaconia, and Jakob Ebacher from the European Public Service Union who highlighted the relevance of social services, the effort of social workers during the pandemic and their demand for better working conditions. J. Ebacher also featured the need of making this profession more attractive to attract workforce.
After a ‘question and answer’ session, participants came to the conclusion that an horizontal approach was missing on the Pillar. Member States will have to be committed and honest, and hence invest in social services, to reach the main targets included in the Action Plan for the Pillar.
The policy dialogue concluded by Manuelita Scigliano, Deputy Director of Caritas Crotone, Caritas Italiana; and Luk Zelderloo President of Social Services Europe and Secretary General of the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities.
L. Zelderloo highlighted that social services are essential services and, therefore, they need to be recognised and not be treated as market services. He concluded noting that this is the first time that public services work together to inform European Institutions and pointed out the good cooperation with the Commission.
EPR is a partner of the Coordinated Action of Social Services.
Read the summary report of Social Services Europe here.