The European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) has co-organised, together with the European Commission, a high-level conference “Towards Inclusion 2020” on 16 January in Brussels to celebrate its tenth anniversary.
EU officials (among whom the Commissioner for Equality), representatives of civil society, self-advocates and other stakeholders took stock of what the EU has achieved in terms of deinstitutionalisation in the past ten years and plan next steps in order to secure that all children and adults can exercise their right to family care and independent living.
Vladimir Spidla, the former Commissioner Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, who convened the Ad Hoc Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (the EEG’s predecessor) for producing the so called Spidla report addressed the conference.
‘DI is not a financial issue and saving money was not the driving force. Supporting people in their emancipation was at the heart of our work. Any people should be able to blossom, be independent, thrive,’ he said.
He also summarised the main challenges in front of the reform as being: the cost for and management of parallel services during the transition period, the building of ‘new institutions’ carrying with them the institutional culture and closing down institutions without offering alternatives.
‘Independent living is a pre-condition for equal treatment, and a cornerstone of our equality agenda. We will make sure that independent living features in all our present and future work. Through our European funds, where in our next programming period we have an even better chance to make sure every intended cent is spent on independent living. We share a common vision on independent living. I know it won’t be easy to make this vision a reality. The road is long, and we can only take measured steps. But I am very happy to work with you along the way towards this noble goal: A Europe where people live free and independently, regardless of disability’, said Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality.
‘DI is still a very important priority for the ESF in the future’, said Andriana Sukova, Deputy Director General of DG EMPL, ‘What matters most for us is to provide quality services in the community.’
Milan Šveřepa, Director of Inclusion Europe, and Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild, EEG Co-Chairs for 2019, outlined the achievements and the challenges which still remain in front of the reform.
‘The EU can be a catalyst for change. We need more and better investment in services and support that allow people with care needs to live with families and in the community. EEG members draw enormous strength from campaigning together to fight for care that respects the human dignity and personal choice of every individual.,’ said Jana Hainsworth.
‘We can count a lot of achievements, like the impact on EU policies and legal framework that drove change across Europe, benefitting thousands of people who left institutions. But there is still about a million people living in institutions and thousands in danger of being institutionalised. A lot of money still goes to institutions, and sometimes what is called deinstitutionalisation still does not allow people to reach their full potential in life.’, Milan Šveřepa said.
Looking forward he highlighted the importance of working on creating good practices, pilots and examples which might drive structural change. ‘
Speakers at the conference included:
- Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality (speech in full here);
- Vladimir Špidla, former Commissioner for employment, European Commission;
- Adriana Sukova, Deputy Director DG Employment, European Commission;
- Katarina Ivankovic Knezevic, Director for Social Affairs, DG Employment, European Commission;
- Jan Šiška, Charles University, Prague, co-author of draft Report on the transition from institutional to community-based care in 27 EU Member States (see presentation here);
- Elisabeta Moldovan, self-advocate, Ceva de spus, Romania (see presentation here);
- Vanesa Cenjor del Rey, Hogar Sí, Spain (see presentation here);
- Michal Ďorď, Vteřina poté, Czechia;
- Kirsi Konola, KVSP, Service Foundation for People with an Intellectual Disability, Finland (see presentation here).
- Full list of speakers
Some useful resources:
- Conference livestream video
- Conference agenda
- EEG joint statement “Ten years towards inclusion” EN FR
- Latest EEG publication Checklist to ensure EU-funded measures contribute to independent living by developing and ensuring access to family-based and community-based services