In his State of the Union address 2016, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission called on the EU “to work quickly on the European Pillar of Social Rights” to ensure that Europe is more attentive to social needs. Earlier this year, the European Commission launched a broad Public Consultation on their proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights.
Today,the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) launches its position on the European Pillar of Social Rights welcoming it as an opportunity to put social issues at the very heart of the European policy making process.
EASPD also supports the efforts to include a broad range of themes, in areas such as employment, labour rights, social protection systems and social services. To really make a difference to improve the lives of people on the ground, EASPD recommends three main changes.
1. Strengthen the Pillar by integrating it into the EU’s economic, fiscal and budgetary policies. Social investment will be important to make the proposed social rights a reality for all, as well as to provide a sustainable and effective social protection system on the long-run.
2. Re-affirm the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) throughout the Pillar. Ratification of the CRPD by the European Union includes a legal obligation to mainstream disability rights in all EU policies and activities.
3. Promote quality in social services as a key instrument in implementing social rights on the ground and re-affirm the importance of having sufficient adequately trained and paid professionals in social care and support services to achieve such quality social services.
The EASPD position paper aims to show how these recommendations can be put in practice and have a positive impact on the lives of people in Europe.
The social sector is willing to take some ownership of the Pillar for this to be possible, the European Commission must develop something useful, that has teeth and that makes a difference to the life of real people in Europe.
The State of the Union also proposed other initiatives of relevance to a Social Europe, including the creation of a European Solidarity Corps and doubling the European Fund for Strategic Investment’s budget and duration. Ms Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, also announced an increase of support for social enterprises, social services and micro-finance with €1 billion as part of the Investment Plan for Europe. EASPD looks forward to working with the European Commission to ensure that these initiatives make a real impact on the ground and lead to improving the quality of social services; and consequently the quality of life of Europeans.
Cover Photo:FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images