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Author: Social Platform

Call to support swift progress on Work-Life Balance Directive at EPSCO Council

Joint statement signed by Social Platform and the following organisations: AGE Platform Europe, COFACE Families Europe, European Network on Independent Living, Eurocarers, European Youth Forum, International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, Mental Health Europe, Make Mothers Matter European Delegation. On 26 April 2017, the European Commission proposed a Directive to “support work-life balance for parents and carers”, a topic that will be on the agenda of the upcoming EPSCO Council of 7 December 2017. The Estonian Presidency has started the discussion, but is it of the utmost importance that the file progresses without being watered down and without any barriers slowing down its approval. We are 10 civil society networks and organisations representing millions of children, young people, adults and families across the EU. We have been calling for such an initiative for a number of years and we welcome the proposal because we strongly believe it could have a real impact. The existing legal and institutional leave framework fails to sufficiently address problems faced by parents and carers on a daily basis, and does not provide adequate solutions for the needs of modern societies (i.e. an ageing population, the gender pay and pension gap, and equality in the labour market). The proposal for a Directive on Work-Life Balance is the right way forward and it must now be swiftly approved and followed up with enforcement and monitoring. Some...

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New Eurozone Watchdog Network welcomes efforts to reform the Euro, but more democratic legitimacy needed

Today, the European Commission proposed a series of long overdue reforms on how the Eurozone is governed, including changes to the European Stability Mechanism, a new EU Finance Minister and a dedicated budget. Recent reports from Transparency International EU have shown how a lack of transparency and accountability has led to weak decision-making around the Euro crisis. The proposals coincide with the launch of a new Eurozone Watchdog Network of 18 organisations dedicated to monitoring the transparency, accountability and democratic standards of the Eurozone. The Watchdog Network welcomes the Commission’s focus on more democratic legitimacy and institutional reforms. In the Network Manifesto, the undersigned organisations call on the Commission to begin negotiations on a legal agreement to make the Eurogroup accountable to the European Parliament, ahead of the 2019 EU elections. “Major decisions affecting us all have been taken behind the closed doors of the Eurogroup for far too long”, said Leo Hoffmann-Axthelm of Transparency International EU. “Member States must stop hiding behind this lack of transparency and take full responsibility for their actions. The Euro must be governed in the interests of European citizens,” continued Hoffmann-Axthelm. “We have always supported a stronger, more transparent and accountable Eurozone governance”, added Petros Fassoulas, Secretary General of the European Movement International. “We are happy to be part of this initiative, and will continue to advocate for this, including a bigger role...

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A turning point for social Europe ?

On 17 November, the European Pillar of Social Rights was jointly signed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. This proclamation took place at the Social Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, 20 years after the first and only EU Summit focusing on social affairs. We welcomed this as a success, carefully highlighting the need to quickly transform pledges into deeds. A first test was the launch last week of the European Semester 2018, and many more steps are expected by the end of the year. Will the EU pass its social diploma? A positive signal that Member States...

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European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities: Europe needs a Social Infrastructure Agenda, say social services AND investors

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) launched earlier this week its latest report “Investing in Social Care and Support, a European Imperative” in a Conference organised with the European Policy Centre. The message was clear: the European Union must develop a European Strategy for Quality Social Infrastructure. The Strategy would include a fund dedicated to the needs of the social sectors, strengthen the capacity of social service providers and investors to build a pipeline of quality projects and support the exchange of quality social infrastructure investment standards. On Monday, 27th November, EASPD and EPC organised a High Level Conference on “the EU Investment Plan: investing in social care and support”, bringing together investors, social services, public authorities and policy-makers. The Conference aimed to address the current underinvestment into social care and support infrastructure throughout the European Union. Opening the Conference, Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council and President of EPC, stated that “Europe is poorly prepared to face the investment gap in social care and support” and called for “collective solutions to be developed”. In response, Jim Crowe, President of EASPD, called for the “creation of a European Strategy for Quality Social Infrastructure”, arguing that “quality and smart social services are both crucial to implementing at least 10 of the 20 principles in the European Pillar of Social Rights and to...

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COFACE Families Europe: Europe’s invisible workforce finally have their say

Today [30 November], COFACE Families Europe is launching its report ‘Who cares? Study on the challenges and needs of family carers in Europe’ in the European Parliament with MEPs Olga Sehnalova (S&D) and Marian Harkin (ALDE), to a mixed delegation of Members of European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission, national governments, civil society watchdogs, and social partners. With more than 1,000 answers from family carers across 16 European countries, the report provides a better understanding of the situation in Europe and offers policy recommendations directly from family carers to better meet their needs and tackle their social exclusion. Family carers fill and important gap in social care provision and provide support to their disabled, or older relatives, or to their children with chronic disease, or complex needs. One thing is clear: the current situation, in which 80% of care work in Europe falls on family carers, who are left without adequate financial compensation, social rights, or a pension scheme, is simply not sustainable. 85% of carers are women and 1 out of 3 respondents provides highly intense care of more than 56 hours per week. Family carers are Europe’s invisible workforce representing one of the most silenced, socially excluded groups. More than 70% of the respondents do not receive any financial compensation for their work and almost two thirds do not have access to any kind of social...

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European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network: ERGO Network asks European leaders and Member States to better invest in Roma youth employment

At a panel debate organised by the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO Network) on Monday [27 November] preceding the 11th Meeting of the European Platform for Roma Inclusion, European policy makers and civil society representatives discussed what is needed to better support young Roma on the labour market. Youth unemployment in the EU has decreased in 2016 – good news after years of economic recession. However, for young Roma the situation is not at all the same. The rate of young Roma not in education, employment or training (NEET) has risen in almost all Member States with a high Roma population: 63 % of Roma aged 16-24 are not in employment, education or training, compared with the 12 % EU average on the NEET rate for the same age group. During the debate, Simona Torotcoi, researcher in the Central European University, presented a research study prepared with members in ERGO Network. The young people interviewed expressed as greatest obstacles the lack of quality education and training, which is in many cases influenced by school segregation of Roma and a high drop-out rate. But also the generally bad labour market situation in their area with salaries below a living wage and antigypsyism by employers play a big role for their situation. Torotcoi pointed out: “The most surprising finding was that young Roma have internalised antigypsyism so much that they...

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European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless: European cities called on to sign the Homeless Bill of Rights

The Homeless Bill of Rights is an initiative of Housing Rights Watch and the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) to recognise and protect the rights of homeless people. In a climate where cities, regions and even some countries are using the criminal and administrative justice systems to minimise the visibility of people experiencing homelessness and punish those who engage in life-sustaining or natural human activities in public spaces, we are calling on European cities to adopt a rights-based approach to homelessness. The Homeless Bill of Rights is a compilation of basic rights drawn from European and International human rights law. By endorsing it, cities will reaffirm their commitment to human rights, which should be their guide in tackling the root causes of poverty and homelessness. We are currently witnessing a worrying increase in the criminalisation of homeless people across the EU. From the use of Public Space Protection Orders in the UK, a municipal ordinance punishing begging in Italy or the proposed ban on begging in Sweden, these practices are very much the wrong way to tackle homelessness. “The EU can and should act to enforce the human rights of all EU citizens, including homeless people. Within the EU Urban Agenda, the Urban Poverty Partnership has identified homelessness as a priority issue and has called on cities to take human rights-based approaches to tackling...

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Caritas Europa: Caritas Czech Republic wins European Citizen’s Prize 2017

Caritas Czech Republic was awarded the European Citizen’s Prize 2017 by the European Parliament for its long-standing work with the poor and suffering people. MEP Tomáš Zdechovský (EPP), who nominated Caritas Czech Republic, said that the reason behind this choice was that “Caritas Czech Republic wilfully follows in the rich history of care of Christians and Catholic Church for poor and suffering people, and also in the almost hundred-year history of its existence in the Czech Republic. There is no bigger scandal of Caritas, for which I often criticize other non-profit organizations; and Caritas represents an undisputed proof that we cannot put all the non-profit organizations in the same bag. It really helps people and I cannot imagine that we would get along without it”. Caritas Czech Republic is the biggest non-governmental provider of health and social services in the Czech Republic. The mission of the organisation includes helping all people in need both by delivering direct services to them and by raising awareness of their situation to bring about structural change. Jakub Líčka, the General Secretary of Caritas Czech Republic, regarded the prize “as an appreciation of the services provided to the most in need by all of our more than seven thousand employees and our many volunteers; especially those who perform strenuous and exhausting work every day“. Caritas has been awareded this prize in previous editions. In...

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