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Author: Social Platform

Do all roads lead to Social Europe?

As the road clears towards Heads of State and Government collectively committing to a strong European Pillar of Social Rights, hopes and doubts regarding the impact of such an “instrument” have never been so big. So what is the right direction to take to ensure that Member States set priorities at national and European level to tackle social deficits? At a European Parliament event Social Platform co-organised with civil society, trade union and enterprise representatives last week, I welcomed the Social Pillar as a good first step towards a right-based approach to work on social issues at European level. But what does it mean to have rights when there is no clear commitment of accountability to guarantee them? As a leading network promoting social standards, should our strategy be to advocate for the creation of social rights with clear mechanisms to ensure they are respected? That’s the rights-based road. Another approach could be based on the assumption that we are talking about non-binding principles, meaning they’re not backed up by legislation. Is this less powerful? Not with good policy coherence to support them. Realistic? Not if Member States don’t have the financial means to make ambitious public investment. All of the possible directions carry with them many ‘ifs’. But what is sure is the need to have strong political will to carry out the necessary changes – and the...

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AGE Platform Europe: Valuing older persons’ contributions and protecting their rights – two-fold responsibility of national governments

AGE Platform Europe seizes the momentum of the International Day of Older Persons on 1 October to call on EU national governments to use the Madrid International Plan for Action on Ageing (MIPAA) to empower older persons and enable their full potential while respecting their human rights. Protecting older persons’ human rights and fighting age discrimination are key to strengthen the participation of older persons in social, cultural, economic, civic and political life. Although various legislations address older people’s rights to live a life of dignity and independence, changing demographics combined with the pressure on public budgets are increasing the risk of human rights violations against older persons. Ageist attitudes toward older people persist preventing them from participating and contributing fully to societies. Adopted in 2002, the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) has been the first attempt to link ageing policy to other related social and economic developments and human rights. AGE hopes that EU national governments will fulfil their recent commitment published in the Lisbon Ministerial Declaration to “safeguard older persons’ enjoyment of all human rights as laid down in the relevant international and regional instruments”, and eventually will bring significant improvements to the living conditions of older persons on the ground. “The MIPAA has the potential to enhance the full spectrum of social, economic, cultural and civic rights of older persons. We encourage our...

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European Anti-Poverty Network: Social Rights or Social Plight? EAPN assessment of the 2017 National Reform Programmes

The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) presents its assessment of the 2017 National Reform Programmes (NRPs) in terms of poverty: ‘Social Rights or Social Plight?’ EAPN members assessed how far Member States are pursuing policies which contribute to key social targets of the Europe 2020 strategy (on poverty, employment and education). Are governments investing in social rights and standards to ensure inclusive and sustainable development and growth? Are they demonstrating an increased commitment to quality participation of civil society organisations and people experiencing poverty? EAPN’s concern is to highlight how far the approach at EU and national level is effectively tackling poverty, promoting social rights and investment in quality jobs, services and social protection. Achieving a real re-balancing of the approach is a central challenge for the EU and key to achieving support for the future of a Social Europe with social rights at its heart. This report synthesises 20 national networks’ answers to a questionnaire and scores in a scoreboard (BE, CY, CZ, DK, EE, FI, FR, DE, IE, IT, LV, LT, LU, NL, PL, PT, RO, ES, SE, UK), as well as inputs from other members in workshops held in June. The detailed assessment produces six key messages: Make macroeconomic policies coherent with social rights Prioritise social rights and an integrated strategy to effectively reduce poverty Make the employment target deliver on poverty reduction and social inclusion Foster...

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The Salvation Army EU Affairs Office: Launch of report – Mapping the Salvation Army’s work with Roma across Europe

Yesterday [26 September] The Salvation Army’s EU Affairs Office launched its new report mapping the work with Roma communities at an event held at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. The event aimed to highlight the potential of social enterprises showcasing a project from The Salvation Army in Norway/Romania. A full report of this event ‘Social Enterprise as part of an integrated approach to Roma Inclusion’ will soon be available. Read the report here. More...

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Eurochild: Child poverty infographic receives EU award

Eurochild received an award for its ‘Child Poverty Cycle’ infographic from the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. Three videos and one poster (infographic) were awarded for the use of facts in a clear and coherent manner. On the occasion of the JRC’s 60th anniversary, a conference on ‘Evidence for policy in a post-fact world’ was hosted in Brussels, Belgium where the award ceremony took place. The infographic, produced in 2015 using data from Eurostat, highlights how child poverty can impact children’s ability to enjoy all their rights and the increased risks of other disadvantages on the rest of one’s life including youth unemployment, homelessness and more. Eurochild advocates to address poverty in childhood to break this cycle of disadvantage and protect the rights of children. Discover and share the infographic here. Full...

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European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless: Locked out – Housing solutions for vulnerable young people transitioning to independence

All across Europe, the under 30s have been particularly affected by the budget cuts and austerity policies of the last few years. A worrying number of young people in Europe are excluded from the housing market or are inadequately housed. They represent 20-30% of the total number of homeless people in the majority of European countries. Homelessness is experienced differently by young people than by adults: the causes and conditions are different, so the responses and solutions must also be different. Therefore, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) and Fondation Abbé Pierre compiled a report which offers an overview of affordable housing initiatives for young people in vulnerable situations. Some of these initiatives are based on a Housing First for youth approach. The report presents initiatives: Providing accessible, decent and suitable housing (in the Netherlands, France, England and Italy) Providing appropriate support towards independence in permanent housing (in France, Belgium and Finland) Maximising the potential for mobility between different types of housing (in England, Belgium, Ireland and France) In the report, FEANTSA urges the European Union to stand up for young homeless people. It does this under the framework of its campaign ‘Be Fair, Europe: Stand Up for Homeless People!‘ Read the report here. More...

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International Federation of Social Workers: Closing the gaps between education and practice – Creating dialogue, increasing knowledge transfer in social work curricula

Last week a new law was passed in Greece that democratises and strengthens the quality and capacity of social work to meet people’s needs. The law recognizes the role of International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) member, the Hellenic Association of Social Workers in facilitating the further development of the standards of the social work profession. This is unique and major achievement for the Greek profession and all the people and communities that need and use social work services. Many other countries with professional regulation are forced into a context where an independent government regulator focuses, not on the development of the profession, but controlling the profession by using top-down standards. Such technocratic methods all too often stifle the profession and its need to grow in meeting new challenges in responding to the changing political and social context of our work. For example, forming partnerships across policy, practice and the people that use social work services, ensuring that all parts of the dynamic matrix are working with jointly agreed common objectives that best serve the aspirations of communities and society. Developments in Greece were timely in that they were announced at the same time as IFSW launched an interim Education Commission. The concept of the Commission was born out of many discussions between social work educators and the national associations of social work in the attempt to find solutions to...

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Eurochild: Fundamental Rights Charter must be part of EU Withdrawal Bill, say children’s rights NGOs

An update from Sean O’Neill, Children in Wales and Eurochild Board Member. Eurochild national partner network members Children in Wales, Children’s Rights Alliance for England, Children in Scotland and Children’s Rights Alliance (Ireland) joined Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) and representatives from the Children’s Commissioner’s offices for an event on ‘Children’s Rights following Brexit’ which took place in Westminster on 13th September. The seminar was organised by the European Children’s Rights Unit (University of Liverpool) in partnership with a number of non-governmental organisations, and provided an opportunity to hear directly from child rights advocates from across the United Kingdom, alongside Members of Parliament and representatives from the devolved administrations. The outcome of UK withdrawal from the European Union (EU) will have lasting implications and consequences for children living in the EU and the UK, including the devolved nations. This seminar set out some of the key priorities which will affect those under 18 and considered what actions needed to be taken to ensure that they receive appropriate exposure in the broader Brexit negotiations. As the EU (Withdrawal) Bill progresses through Parliament, the seminar provided a timely opportunity to consider possible amendments which could be submitted to help ensure that the human rights of children are not lost or forgotten when existing EU laws are transferred from Brussels to the UK in March 2019. The Seminar focused on 5...

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