EEG meets Members of European Parliament to discuss how next EU budget can support deinstitutionalisation

On Wednesday, 10 October 2018, the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) held a technical meeting entitled “Future of the EU funds for the transition from institutional to community-based care”. The event brought together Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the REGI and EMPL committees, European Commission officials and civil society to discuss how the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) can support the transition from institutional to community-based care. The meeting was hosted by MEP Brando Benifei on behalf of the European Parliament Intergroup on Child Rights and the Intergroup on Disability Rights.
The meeting started with opening remarks from the event’s host, MEP Brando Benifei and Sabrina Ferraina, co-chair of the EEG. They both mentioned the importance of the topic discussed and acknowledged the existing commitment of the EU towards the transition from institutional to community based care during the 2014 – 2020 funding period.
“During the 2014-2020 funding period, the European Structural and Investment Funds have been a key component in the transition from institutional to community-based care, benefiting children and families, people with disabilities and people with mental health problems,” said Ms Ferraina.  “Yet, more than 1 million children, persons with disabilities, people with mental health problems and homeless people continue to live in the long stay residential institutions, segregated from society in Europe,” she added.
MEP Brando Benifei said that collectively more has to be done to provide community-based care for social inclusion in the EU and that EU funds cannot be allowed to go to institutions or other arrangements not respecting freedom and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) (source: https://twitter.com/misver/status/1050028053332512769)
When speaking of the European Commission’s proposal on the Common Provision Regulation (CPR) and the significance of EU funds in fostering deinstitutionalisation and supporting the inclusion of persons with disabilities, MEP Helga Stevens (ECR) mentioned that references to non-discrimination and accessibility have been deleted from the proposed regulations, while these principles are included in the article 7 of the current CPR 1303/2013. “The proposed deletion or omission of non-discrimination and accessibility is not acceptable as this goes against CRPD,” MEP Stevens said.
She also noted that accessibility should be applied as a horizontal principle in the use of the Funds that CPR governs. “Accessibility, as well as participation of persons with disabilities, should be part of the criteria when selecting projects eligible for EU funding. Clear and transparent accessibility provisions should be included in the CPR proposal,” she added. “In concrete terms this means that the whole application procedure for EU funding should be transparent and accessible. When a call for projects is launched, this should be widely published so that everyone is aware of it, and so all organisations can have an equal chance of submitting project applications and competing for EU funds. This also means that information about the call for projects should also be provided in sign languages, easy-to-read and braille formats, and compatible with screen-readers,” MEP Stevens concluded.
She continued with demands to insert a specific reference to non-discrimination and accessibility in the Regulation, similar to the way gender equality has been included in Article 67. Furthermore, MEP Stevens stressed that EU funds should not be used to promote or continue institutionalisation or segregation. Proposed projects should be carefully screened to ensure that they actually contribute to inclusion of persons with disabilities in the society. “The best way to find this out is to check whether persons with disabilities themselves are playing an important role in selecting, implementation and monitoring of project proposals,” MEP Stevens said.
Katerina Nanou, EEG member and Policy and Advocacy Officer at Eurochild agreed with MEP Stevens on the importance of re-introducing article 7 on promotion of equality between men and women and non- discrimination. She added that EEG we will continue asking for this reference. She also mentioned that CPR should, indeed, prohibit the use of EU funds for institutionalisation or segregation of people. “The EEG community is glad to see that the ex-ante conditionality 9.1, which played an important role during the 2014-2020 funding period as it prioritised deinstitutionalsiation reforms in 12 Member States, has now been strengthened,” Ms Nanou said. “The EEG community calls on the European Parliament to maintain measures for the transition from institutional to community-based care under enabling condition 4.3 on poverty reduction and social inclusion, which now applies to all EU Member States. In addition, measures indicating participation of civil society and social partners in design and delivery of the national strategies for poverty reduction and social inclusion – which is a great novelty of current enabling condition 4.3 – must be maintained”. With regards to the Partnership Principle, Ms Nanou said that although it is important to have the principle included in the proposed regulations, the European Code of Conduct on Partnership requires further revision, based on the lessons learned in the current funding period.
MEP Brando Benifei (S&D), Vice-President of the Disability Intergroup, Member of the Children’s Rights Intergroup and ESF+ Shadow Rapporteur noted that there is a tendency to insist that the EU remains competitive. “At the same time, we should not forget that ESF+ should be supportive of the social funding for the Member States, especially in terms of the outreach to the most marginalised groups,” he added. He pointed out that one of the challenges he observed in many Member States has been the outreach. “We are not reaching those who are in most need to be reached, those who don’t have other opportunities,” MEP Benifei said. To address this, final provisions for the European Social Funds Plus (ESF+) need to explicitly mention accessibility. Furthermore, explicit mention of deinstitutionalisation, especially for those with multiple and intersectional discrimination, including children, should be included in the Articles 4 and 6 of the ESF+ regulations, according to MEP Benifei.
In addition, MEP Benifei spoke about a brand new specific objective that aims to increase access for persons with disabilities in the ESF+ regulations.  He said that Disabled persons’ organisations (DPOs) need to be provided with space in the multilevel governance principle and the monitoring committees. All documents need to be available in accessible formats with sign language interpreting available at the meetings.
In the innovations strand, guidance on the deinstitutionalisation of services should be developed for the implementation of the European Pillar for Social Rights. He echoed MEP Helga Stevens, saying that funds should not go to institutional settings, which do not allow dignity or freedom of choice.
Marie Anne Paraskevas, Senior Policy Expert at DG EMPL, European Commission mentioned that, in terms of deinstitutionalisation, DG EMPL kept the model of the 2014-2020 programming period by including the Article 6 on equality between men and women. Ms Paraskevas also expressed concern about the deletion of provisions on accessibility from the ESF+ regulations due to simplification. “The European Code of Conduct on Partnership, indeed, should and will be revised,” said Ms Paraskevas. At the same time she noted positive developments in the proposed CPR, such as obligation of the Member States to include all stakeholders with equal voting rights and balanced representation.
Nadia Hadad, EEG member and ENIL board member explained the important role of the ESF+ in promoting the transition from institutional care to family and community-based care, as well as timely and equal access to quality, affordable, non-segregated, sustainable and inclusive education and training and community-based care services. She stated, however, that in the next funding period, Erasmus+ needs to support independent living, as progress until now was slow. Ms Hadad added that it cannot subsidise institutions that segregate persons with disabilities and can’t fund staff costs in institutional care. Ms Hadad added that it is important to ensure that in the next ESF+ there is an adequate amount of funds for social inclusion, as many Member States exceeded the allocation of 20% in the current programming period. This, in turn, will strengthen the contribution of Funds to social inclusion of different groups. For this, “the earmarking for social inclusion should be increased to 30%”, Ms Hadad concluded.
MEP Julie Ward (S&D) from the REGI committee took the floor saying that, as a member of Parliamentary Intergroups on Disability, Poverty, Youth and Child Rights, she has a direct responsibility to ensure that ERDF and CPR regulations prioritise the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care.
Ms Ward shared three key points that institutions should be reminded of. First of all, there is the historic signing of the European Pillar on Social Rights which was adopted one year ago. “It should never just be a signature with a nice picture. It needs to be translated into a real change,” MEP Ward said. Next, Ms Ward highlighted the importance of Child Guarantee which provides children with an opportunity to grow up included in societies, without being at risk of poverty. “We need to fight for this as there is no consensus. We need to shame politicians who sign up for things and don’t follow through,” stated MEP Ward. Finally, she mentioned that resources are very important and that the EU and the Member States should ensure that they continue fund the transition from institutional to community-based care.
MEP Ward raised concerns with regards to the halt of financing from the EU of the European Network on Independent Living and she said that the EU should re-consider its decision. “Such networks as ENIL should be funded as they are the voices of thousands of people across Europe asking for their right to live independently in the community,” MEP Ward concluded.
Speaking on behalf of the European Commission, Andor Urmos, Policy Analyst at DG REGIO, said that simplification in the proposed regulations for the next MFF is done not only to get rid of bureaucracy, but also to simplify access to funding; it is also to make clear that the rule of law applies, he added. “There is no need to repeat things all the times,” Mr Urmos said. “There is plenty of misuse when it comes to EU funding. Interpretations of text change in different countries, especially on what counts as community-based services. When it comes to Partnership Principle, many Member States do not take into account important stakeholders. Sometimes there are politically driven partnerships. This is something that needs to be tackled”. Finally, he mentioned that many stakeholders are either misinterpreting the rules or abusing them. “We need to look at how we ensure enforcement, and this could be an issue of litigation,” Mr Urmos concluded.
Susanne Bosman, EEG member and Programme Associate at UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) shared the EEG’s concerns about the weakened text of the proposed European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) regulations. She said that although the EEG community understands the rules of simplification, it is important to re-introduce the transition from institutional to community-based care as an investment priority in the proposed ERDF regulations. “Under the Article 6, which stipulates which activities should be excluded from the scope of ERDF and Cohesion Fund, an explicit reference prohibiting the use of funds for building or refurbishing of institutions should be included. We need to ensure that these regulations clearly indicate that no funds can be used for the segregation of people,” Ms Bosman concluded.
Milan Šveřepa, EEG Co-Chair and Director at Inclusion Europe closed the meeting by thanking MEP Brando Benifei for hosting the event and MEPs Helga Stevens and Julie Ward for intervening and sharing their thoughts on how the future MFF should prioritise the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care. He said that EEG is tabling amendments for the proposed regulations on European Regional Development Fund, European Social Funds Plus and the Common Provision Regulations. “I remain confident that the EU will continue championing the rights of people in vulnerable situations who are either at risk of or are being institutionalised,” he concluded.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First reactions to the proposed regulations for the European Social Fund+, the European Regional Development Fund and the Common Provisions Regulation for the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework

On 29 and 30 May 2018, the European Commission (EC) released its proposed financial regulations for the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU) on Regional Development and Cohesion Policy and the European Social Fund+ (ESF+) for the 2021-2027 Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF).
The proposed regulations provide a path for the promotion of equal opportunities for all, non-discrimination and social inclusion, by committing to leave no one behind. The proposed regulations prioritise the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights through targeted actions and a strengthened link with the European Semester process. In the EC proposal, ESF+ investments should be closely aligned with Country Specific Recommendations and country analysis provided under the Semester. In addition, the ESF+ will contribute to the overall objective of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth beyond 2020, a clear reference to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The proposed regulations reflect the EC’s commitment to foster the transition from institutional to community-based care through targeted investments in the period 2021-2027. The ESF+ and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) regulations foresee that thousands of children, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems, homeless people and their families will have access to community-based social services and thus will be included in the community.
Acknowledging the crucial role that the EU has already played in championing the issue of deinstitutionalisation, we are looking forward to working with the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to ensure that the EC’s commitment of leaving no one behind is realized.
For this, the EEG has four main demands:
  1. Increase to 30% of ESF+ earmarked for social inclusion
  2. Ensure that investments support deinstitutionalization reforms
  3. Ensure access to funding is made conditional to promote the shift from institutional to community-based care
  4. Strengthen the Partnership Principle and the European Code of Conduct on Partnership
Read more on the EEG’s first reactions to the ESF+, ERDF and CPR.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Statement on the post-2020 regulations for EU funding

Introduction
In the 2014-2020 programming period, the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) have provided a valuable addition to poverty reduction and social inclusion measures at the national, regional or local level. In particular, through its Common Provision Regulations (CPR), ESIF have introduced a series of breakthrough measures in the form of the ex-ante conditionalities, a strong contribution to social cohesion.
With the intent of continuing its fruitful collaboration with institutions of the European Union (EU) and drawing on the expertise of a diverse membership, the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) calls for:
  • Upholding the general ex-ante conditionalities;
  • Fostering the impulse of deinstitutionalization and independent living; and
  • Strengthening the partnership principle in the CPR and in the regulations of the specific Funds by introducing it as an ex-ante conditionality.
Ex-ante conditionalities
To fulfil its legal obligations, the EU should step up efforts to eliminate inequalities and promote equality between men and women, as well as to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, at all stages of the implementation of the Structural Funds. In this sense, ex-ante conditionalities must be coherent with EU Treaties, existing legal framework and human rights standards.
We need to maintain the ex-ante conditionalities in order to sustain the impact of EU funding on employment, economic and social inclusion. Women, children, persons with disabilities and their families experiencing discrimination and poverty face large barriers in society, in particular amid the current challenging economic context and the increased incidence of poverty and social exclusion in the EU.
We call on the EU to uphold the general ex-ante conditionalities regarding non-discrimination, gender equality and disability under the relevant section of the Commission proposal for the CPR.
Transition from Institutional Care to Community-based Services
The thematic ex-ante conditionality 9.1 in the CPR prioritised the implementation of a national strategic policy framework for poverty reduction aiming at the active inclusion of people.  Activities aiming at reducing poverty included, among others, measures for the shift from institutional care to community-based services (‘deinstitutionalisation’).
The EU has had a pivotal role in promoting deinstitutionalization in some Member States and we strongly encourage the EU to continue championing deinstitutionalization in its internal funding policy as well as extending this leadership to its external policy and funding. The shift towards family and community-based services will facilitate the right to live independently and to be included in the community, enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), ratified by the EU and all Member States, as well as the right of every child to grow up in a family environment, set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by all EU Member States. It will also contribute to the delivery of the principles under the European Pillar of Social Rights to effectively protect social rights, improve the quality of lives, and promote the right to family and community-based services. Finally, it will contribute to the commitment that the EU and its Member States have taken to leave no-one behind through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We call on the EU to retain and expand the shift from institutional care to community and family-based services as an investment priority in future ESIF regulations.
Participation of civil society organizations and service users
Article 5 of the CPR makes it compulsory for each ESIF programme to organise a partnership at all programming stages and at all levels with all relevant actors, including social partners and non-governmental organisations.
The European Code of Conduct on Partnership (ECCP) has been set up to support Member States in implementing the Partnership Principle and to ensure that all partners are involved in all stages of the implementation of the spending of EU Funds.
In order to fulfil this provision, it is necessary to ensure active involvement of civil society as partners on an equal footing with others, through their participation in the Monitoring Committees, as members with voting rights. Additionally, to ensure the effective implementation of this provision, adequate support for capacity building through technical assistance is crucial to ensure that civil society organizations have adequate resources for meaningful participation. The inclusion of the Partnership Principle is in line with Article 4(3) of the UN CRPD and the EU’s obligation to include the voice of the representative organisations of persons with disabilities and their families in the planning, implementation and monitoring of policies and programmes affecting their lives.
We call on the EU to maintain and expand the Partnership Principle in the CPR and all funding regulations and introduce a new ex-ante conditionality to guarantee the efficient implementation of the ECCP.
The full statement on the post-2020 regulations for EU funding can be downloaded here.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Investment in community-based services is a must to make the European Pillar of Social Rights real

The European Commission will hold its Annual Convention for Inclusive Growth (ACIG) tomorrow, Friday 27 April, in Brussels. This year’s Convention focuses on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar). The European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) together with the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) and COFACE Families Europe will host a side event on “Community based support and services as pillars for an inclusive European Union?”
The side event, moderated by Laura Marchetti, coordinator of the EEG, will explore the implementation of  many of the Social Pillar principles through investment in community-based services including those on inclusive education and active support to employment, work-life balance and gender equality, childcare and support to children, social protection, health care, inclusion of persons with disabilities, long-term care, access to essential services, housing and assistance for the homeless.
The EEG considers smart and sustainable investment in community-based services as key to bringing the Social Pillar agenda forward. “Person-centred community-based services are essential to enabling individuals to live in the community and allowing them to exercise their rights as EU citizens” says Frank Sioen, ENIL Advocacy Officer. Future EU budget should keep the transition from institutional to community-based care for people with all kinds of support needs high on the agenda.
The Expert Group is convinced that investments and policy initiatives can reinforce each other to achieve a sustainable transition to community-based services and create inclusive communities. “Implementing the Social Pillar through the development of community-based services is in line with the political and legal commitments undertaken by the EU and its Member States upon the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Human rights should be fully respected when implementing EU policies and spending EU funding” highlighted Dr. Magdi Birtha, Policy and Advocacy Officer at COFACE Families Europe.
Next week, the European Commission will publish its first communication on the next European budget, the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF). “Adequate investments in social inclusion and having community-based services as an investment priority in the next MFF is where the EU can bring real added value” concluded Sabrina Ferraina, EEG Co-chair and EASPD Policy Manager.
The EEG takes this opportunity to call on the EU and its Member States to ensure the implementation of the Social Pillar and the next MFF through strong governance, financial means and guarantees on respecting human rights.  Only this will ensure a fair and social Europe for all. The EEG acknowledges that the Social Pillar has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of the most socially excluded people in Europe and their families. We are standing strong and are willing to provide technical assistance and support to EU institutions and Member States on how to make inclusive societies a reality.
//ENDS
 
Note to Editors
The European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) is a broad coalition gathering stakeholders representing people with care or support needs and their families, including children, people with disabilities, homeless people, people experiencing mental health problems; as well as service providers, public authorities and intergovernmental organisations.
Contact details:
Laura Marchetti, EEG Coordinator: eeg.coordination@gmail.com

 

Posted in DI | Leave a comment

EEG response to the Council Conclusions on “Enhancing Community-Based Support and Care for Independent Living”

On 7 December 2017, the Council of the European Union (EU) adopted Conclusions on “Enhancing Community-Based Support and Care for Independent Living.” The European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) welcomes this significant development and political commitment to continue investing in community-based services for independent living for all people with support needs.
With these Council Conclusions, the EU and its Member States have made a clear commitment to end the segregation of people in vulnerable situations and with support needs. This is also a concrete step forward towards the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), ratified by the EU and 27 of its Member States, the European Pillar for Social Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Conclusions invite the European Commission to facilitate the practical implementation of the EEG’s Common European Guidelines on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care and of the Toolkit on the Use of the European Union Funds. We are glad to see that our publications have been mentioned as the gold standard guiding the deinstitutionalisation process throughout Europe. We are emboldened to not only continue but strengthen our fruitful collaboration with the European Commission and work towards greater prioritisation of deinstitutionalisation through the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework. We also positively welcome and support the recommendations to commit to a greater dialogue at EU level on the transition from institutional care to community-based services.
With this in mind, the EEG would like to draw the attention of the Council to the recently adopted General Comment on Article 19 by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a document aiming at assisting States Parties in their implementation of Article 19 and fulfilling their obligations under  the UN CRPD. The General Comment clarifies that Article 19 of the UN CRPD recognises the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community regardless of age, origin, race and ethnicity, religion or political opinion, gender identity and sexual orientation, family or carer situation etc. (for a full list see the General Comment). It highlights the need to phase out institutions and to prohibit the use of public or private funds on maintaining, renovating or establishing any form of institutional care.
With respect to the specific situation of children, the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care for Children also provide essential guidance for EU Member States.  It embeds the principles of necessity and suitability, i.e. that no child should be separated from their family until all other support measures have been exhausted, and that decisions regarding a child’s care must reflect their best interests and take account of the individual child’s experience, characteristics and opinion. Going forward, we encourage the Council to uphold Article 19 of the UN CRPD and other human rights standards in their entirety, for all individuals with support needs, when applying the Council Conclusions.
The EEG also would like to acknowledge the leadership of the Estonian Presidency in championing the commitment to community-based support and care for independent living. From the hosting of a high-level conference on “Dignity + Independent living = DI” to  the drafting of the Council Conclusions, the Presidency put investing in the transition to community-based care and services high on the EU agenda. The EEG would like to commend these efforts and express our appreciation for the Estonian Presidency’s openness to dialogue and consultation with EEG members throughout its six-month mandate. We would like to encourage the upcoming Presidencies to continue and translate into concrete measures the commenced efforts of the Estonian Presidency to make social inclusion and community living a reality for millions of Europeans. The EEG is more than pleased to continue supporting such actions in line with human rights standards at European and national level.
For more information on the Council Conclusions, see EEG members’ reactions:

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EEG position paper on the funding of the European Union (EU) post-2020

In light of the discussions on the post-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG)  has prepared a position paper with specific recommendations to contribute to the current debate on the MFF.
With more than 1 million children, persons with disabilities, people with mental health problems, homeless and older people living in long stay residential institutions and segregated from society in Europe, more has to be done collectively for poverty reduction and social inclusion in the future MFF of the European Union (EU).
The EEG acknowledges the pivotal role that the EU has had in promoting deinstitutionalisation in some Member States and strongly encourages the EU to continue championing deinstitutionalisation in its internal funding policy as well as extending this leadership to its external policy and funding (i.e. EU external aid).
Continuing the promotion and the further investment in the deinstitutionalisation process is in line with political and human rights commitments taken by the EU and its Member States, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC). The shift towards family and community-based services will also contribute to the delivery of the principles and rights under the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
More robust investment in deinstitutionalisation can make a real difference in the lives of the most socially excluded in Europe, their families and society as a whole, as well as ensure that EU citizens and individuals are able to fully enjoy their human rights. Investment on accessible social services infrustructures, including affordable and accessible housing, are essential parts of a meaniful and succesful deinstitutionalisation process.
With the intent of continuing its fruitful collaboration with the European Commission and drawing on the expertise of a diverse membership, the EEG would like to propose specific recommendations which could contribute to the debate on the post-2020 MFF and increase and extend the added value of EU funds in this area.
For more information and to download the paper, please click here.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

EEG position on the Social Pillar and European Semester

The European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) has prepared its recommendations to the implementation of the European Semester and the integration of the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar) in the European Semester.
The Social Pillar is a European Commission initiative which is intended to act as driver for social change in Europe and serve as a guide towards efficient employment and social outcomes when responding to current and future challenges.
Over one million adults and children, including adults and children with disabilities, are still living in long-stay residential institutions across Europe. A horizontal and efficient implementation of the Social Pillar’s principles, especially those on disability, childcare, long-term care, healthcare and housing, would give the opportunity to effectively protect social rights, improve the quality of lives and promote the right to family and independent living.
The adequate implementation of the Social Pillar would also be in line and provide a tool for the enforcement on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) which has been ratified by the European Union (EU) and, to date, 27 Member States.
For these reasons, the EEG recommends the EU to:
  • Define a clear implementation plan for each principle of the Social Pillar;
  • Reform the European Semester process to rigorously apply the Social Scoreboard;
  • Put in place a rigorous and transparent monitoring system;
  • Meaningfully involve civil society organisations;
  • Create as many synergies as possible among policies and funding;
  • Propose packages with legislative and non-legislative initiatives;
  • Further invest in the Social Pillar when designing the post-2020 EU budget and Cohesion Policy.
More information can be found in the EEG paper on the European Pillar of Social Rights and its potential to build an inclusive Europe for all.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

EEG response to the reflection paper on the future of EU finances

The European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) has prepared a response to the reflection paper on the future of the finances of the European Union (EU) to ensure that the Post-2020 EU Budget continues to provide opportunities to improve the lives of over one million adults and children still living in long-stay residential institutions across Europe.
In the last Multi-annual Financial Framework, the EU prioritised deinstitutionalisation through a Cohesion Policy which aims, among other things, to lift people out of poverty and social exclusion, and through the introduction of the ex-ante conditionalities, which help ensuring that EU funds support the transition from institutional to community-based services.
These are good examples of how the EU can make a real difference in the lives of people who are among the most socially excluded, however there is still a strong need for investment in the deinstitutionalisation process and for the transformation towards innovative, person-centred family- and community-based support, health and housing services.
Considering the great potential that Cohesion Policy has in changing lives and supporting deinstitutionalisation, the EEG strongly encourages the EU to assume a leading role in social issues by renewing and increasing the Cohesion Policy budget in the next Multi-annual Financial Framework and invest in the transition from institutions to high-quality community-based services that promote social inclusion in all EU Member States.
The EEG believes the EU can do even more to support and calls for:
  • Further investment into Cohesion Policy in the next Multi-annual Financial Framework;
  • Strengthening, extending, and ensuring the efficient monitoring of the ex-ante conditionalities on the transition from institutions to community based care and services;
  • Reform and simplification of the funding processes.
More information can be found on the EEG response to the reflection paper on the future of EU finances.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EEG raises concerns on the use of EU funding in the context of migration

In the past months, the EEG has seen a worrying trend in the way that the European Union (EU) and Member States have responded to the needs of groups of people in vulnerable situations in the context of migration.
In particular, the group is concerned by the findings of reports highlighting that the needs of people in vulnerable situations, including children, homeless people, persons with disabilities and people experiencing mental health problems, are not being met in a manner that is consistent with human rights.
Concerned by the exclusion of groups of people in vulnerable situations in the context of migration and drawing from the expertise of its members, the EEG sent a letter to various EU Commissioners and EU Agencies Directors with a series of recommendations to be applied to groups of people in vulnerable situations. In conjunction with these recommendations, the EEG has also prepared a background document with more information on the legal framework and situation of specific groups.
EEG letter on the exclusion of groups of people in vulnerable situations in the context of migration and the use of EU funding.
Annex to the letter on the exclusion of groups of people in vulnerable situations in the context of migration and the use of EU funding.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EEG Press Release: EU Semester

EC must safeguard adequate investment in community-based services in Country Specific Recommendations

The European Commission (EC) recently published its 2016 country-specific recommendations (CSRs) to Member States. Following positive statements on the way social care and support should be provided in the last few years by the European Commission, the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-Based Care (EEG) welcomes several recommendations promoting quality care and support and access to employment and inclusive education for disadvantaged groups. Nonetheless, the overall focus on austerity will be detrimental to the transition to community-based services in Europe, if no safeguards are made available for public investment in this area.
In Europe, millions of children, persons with disabilities, older persons, homeless people and those from other disadvantaged groups live in segregated institutional settings, excluded from mainstream society. Without adequate, person-centered support in the community, that is accessible for all persons and their families, institutionalisation will sadly continue. This violates their right to live independently or to be raised by their family and to have choices and control over their life, just like other people. Since people in segregated institutional settings are usually unable to take part in mainstream education or the open labour market, the economic and societal impact of their exclusion is very high.
The EC’s Annual Growth Survey 2016 fully supported this argument and urged “social infrastructure (to) be provided in a more flexible way, personalized and better integrated to promote the active inclusion of people …” Its analysis of poverty and social exclusion also argued that “access to high quality healthcare from an early age is indispensable for people to grow and live healthily and contribute to society”.
The EEG is pleased that several CSRs back the European Commission’s commitment to the transition from institutional to community-based care. The CSR recommendation to Estonia to “ensure the provision and accessibility of high quality public services, especially social services, at local level, inter alia by adopting and implementing the proposed local government reform” is a particularly positive step. The same can be said about the CSR calling on Romania to “improve access to integrated public services”.
The EEG, however, remains concerned that these positive social recommendations may not be sufficiently protected and strengthened ahead of recommendations in the area of fiscal consolidation, included in most CSRs. For instance, whilst Spain receives positive CSRs related to a better coordination of regional employment services with social services or to improve family support schemes, including access to quality child-care and long-term care, it also receives a recommendation to “ensure a durable correction of the excessive deficit by 2017, reducing the general government deficit to 3.7% of GDP in 2016 and to 2.5% of GDP in 2017”. It is indispensable to ensure that the fiscal recommendations do not undermine the implementation of the social ones.
Luk Zelderloo, co-chair of the EEG and secretary-general of the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities, argues that “the European Commission must include safeguards for public investment in the area of quality social infrastructure in recommendations related to fiscal consolidation. This would ensure that the European Commission positively contributes to the transition to community-based care, whilst also staying within the remit of their fiscal agreements.”
The EEG calls on the European Union to continue the fight against segregating institutions and for creating inclusive communities in all its policies and activities, even beyond the use of European Structural and Investment Funds.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment