Tragic care home incident in Czechia highlights need for community-based care

Joint Statement

Tragic care home incident in Czechia highlights need for community-based care

European Expert Group on the transition from institutional to community-based care

Brussels, 18 February 2020

The European Expert Group on the transition from institutional to community-based care (EEG) has been shaken by the news of a devastating fire in a care home for persons with disabilities in Vejprty in the Czech Republic, which has claimed the lives of eight people and injured another thirty.

We express our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

We wish the survivors a swift recovery and hope that they are able to overcome this traumatic experience.

Just two weeks ago the Czech Ombudsman, Anna Šabatová, called on the Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs to support independent living of people with intellectual disabilities after her visit to 9 institutions.

The evidence, including EEG report,[1] has shown that institutions are harmful for both children and adults and illustrates the urgencies to move people out of institutions into family-and community-based care.

EU leadership is critically important for ensuring this transition. It is vital the EU invest in measures that help Member States to change their care policies, procedures and practices to launch or speed up reforms.

At a national level, the focus must be on changing the social protection and welfare systems and creating incentives so that good practices become the norm, not the exception. Reforms must put individuals’ needs at the centre, strengthening social connections, and ensuring those receiving support are fully included and integrated in society.

 We call on the EU to ensure that:

  • EU funds are not spent on institutions;
  • EU resources improve the availability and the quality of family- and community-based support whilst also ensuring that the services can be sustained through domestic resources once EU funding ends;
  • EU funding supports reforms that are designed and implemented with the direct involvement of those concerned and effectively monitors spending;
  • Reforms go hand-in-hand with investment in accessible housing with quality public services which include early child education and care, education, employment, leisure and cultural activities.

 Ending institutionalisation is not only a human rights obligation. For those locked behind the walls of institutions it means having choice; it means life.

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[1] Report of the Ad Hoc Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care https://deinstitutionalisationdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/report-fo-the-ad-hoc_2009.pdf


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, and people experiencing mental health problems; as well as service providers, public authorities and UN organisations. The Group has as its mission the promotion of person-centred, quality and empowering models of services and formal and informal care that fully respect the human rights of all people with care or support needs. The Group supports national efforts to implement the necessary reforms, in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (in particular with Article 19), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

PDF version of the statement: EEG Statement – Tragic care home incident in Czechia highlights need for community-based care

For more information: www.deinstitutionalisation.com

Contacts: coordinator@deinstitutionalisation.com

 

EEG co-chairs (January-December 2020)

Irene Bertana ibertana@coface-eu.org

Aaron Greenberg agreenberg@unicef.org

Irina Papancheva irina.papancheva@wearelumos.org

 

 

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10 Years Towards Inclusion

JOINT STATEMENT:

10 YEARS TOWARDS INCLUSION

European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based care

 

Brussels, 16 January 2020

The “Towards Inclusion” conference celebrates 10 years of coordinated EU action on deinstitutionalisation.  It aims to take stock of past achievements and set a common vision for the future.

The event is organised jointly by the European Commission and the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based care (EEG), which was set up in 2009, thanks to the initiative of the then EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimír Špidla. Since then, the EEG advocates for replacing institutions with family- and community-based support, promoting person-centred, quality and empowering models of services and formal and informal care that fully comply with the human rights of children and adults with care and/or support needs.

Over the last ten years the EU has significantly contributed to moving away from institutionalisation by supporting community- and family-based care and services in its Member States.

EU officials and national governments are now far more aware of the problem of institutionalisation and of how European funds can be used to support the transition. EU funding has been instrumental in improving peoples’ lives by changing the way care and support is provided to children and adults.  Much of this impact can be traced back to the Špidla Report, the EEG Guidelines and Toolkit, the change in the ESIF Regulations and the European Union’s s efforts to facilitate access to expertise and resources.

Looking ahead, there is still a long way to go in order to reach fully inclusive societies. EU policies and funding have not always been aligned and institutionalisation remains a problem in Europe.

Over 1 million people in the EU still live in institutions, which segregate them from society and deny them control over their lives. Many more are at risk of being institutionalised as a result of lack of adequate preventative measures and family- and community-based support.

Additionally, the EU and its Member States continue to finance institutions, including by building new ones under the name of “deinstitutionalisation” reforms contravening their own policy objectives and legal obligations such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

When reforms are taking place, decisions on their design, financing and implementation are still too ‘top-down’.  Governments fail to adequately involve those responsible for delivering the reforms, and, most importantly, the people with care needs directly affected by the transition.

Finally, EU funding too often supports individual projects or “pilots” that represent exceptions in systems still predominantly reliant on institutions.

The 10th anniversary of the Špidla report, combined with the beginning of a new European cycle and the forthcoming programming period 2021-2027, is a moment for the EU to renew its commitment to the transition from institutional to community- and family-based care and take account of the lessons learnt.

Ending institutionalisation is a human rights obligation and can be achieved with the right mobilisation of expertise and resources.  The EU’s leadership is critically important for the successful completion of this process.

The EU must invest in measures that help Member States to change their rules, procedures and practices to launch or speed up reforms. At national level, the focus must be on changing the social protection and welfare systems and creating incentives so that good practices become the norm, not the exception. Reforms must put individuals’ needs at the centre, strengthening social connections, and ensuring those receiving support are fully included and integrated in society.

To translate the EU’s commitment to social inclusion into practice, it is essential that:

  • There is no further spending on institutions;
  • EU resources improve the availability and the quality of family- and community-based support whilst also ensuring the services can be sustained through domestic resources once EU funding ends;
  • EU funding helps to ensure reforms are designed and implemented with the direct involvement of those concerned and spending is effectively monitored;
  • Reforms go hand-in-hand with investment in an accessible built environment and quality public services including access to housing, early child education and care, education, employment, leisure and cultural activities.

We call on the EU to apply these principles and to support the transition from institutionalisation to family- and community-based support in all of its relevant legislative, policy and funding instruments, including:

  • The EU funding Regulations and their implementation;
  • The European Semester;
  • The European Pillar of Social Rights;
  • The European Child Guarantee;
  • The new European Disability Strategy or any other initiatives linked to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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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, and people experiencing mental health problems; as well as service providers, public authorities and UN organisations. The Group has as its mission the promotion of person-centred, quality and empowering models of services and formal and informal care that fully respect the human rights of all people with care or support needs. The Group supports national efforts to implement the necessary reforms, in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (in particular with Article 19), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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For more information:

10 years towards inclusion joint statement (PDF version) (FR)

www.deinstitutionalisation.com

Contacts: coordinator@deinstitutionalisation.com

EEG co-chairs (January-December 2020)

Irene Bertana ibertana@coface-eu.org

Aaron Greenberg agreenberg@unicef.org

Irina Papancheva irina.papancheva@wearelumos.org

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Towards Inclusion conference

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.

Towards Inclusion conference participants (group photo)

Towards Inclusion conference participants

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
Commissioner Dalli with speakers Elisabeta Moldovan, Michal Dord and a Romania care-leaver at Towards Inclusion conference

Commissioner Dalli with Andreeas Novacovici, from Romania Institutionalized Youth Council and speakers Elisabeta Moldovan and Michal Dord, at Towards Inclusion conference

Some useful resources:

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Reflections on the 2019 European Semester: Country Specific Recommendations

On the 5th June, the European Commission published the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs), tailor-made policy advice to Member States on how to improve the impact of policies and better invest resources. In the last few years, the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based
Care (EEG) has closely followed and worked on the European Semester process to ensure that policies on the transition from institutional to community-based care would be adequately integrated and monitored in the process.

Earlier this year, the EEG prepared its reflections on the 2019 Country Report, analysing how the state of deinstitutionalisation in various EU Member States was reflected and providing advice to the European Commission in the drafting of the CSRs. Following the CSRs publication, the EEG has prepared its reflections taking into account its recommendations issued following the Country Reports. These reflections also include recommendations on what should be included in the Operational Programmes for the post-2020 funding period and the next investment priorities.

To read the EEGs reflections on the CSRs, please click the link below.

Link: EEG reflections on the 2019 CSRs

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Progressing Independence: The EU “Start Your Career” Project

Recently the Council showed a glimpse into their “Start your career” project taking place in the Czech Republic. The project aims to prepare people for the labour market, allowing people to regain their independence through work. According to Zuzana Thürlová, a social worker linked to the project, 85% of people within the project who have previously passed through the social services system find paid employment.

For more information and to see the personal story of Jaroslav, who has come from institution to independence through the project, please click this link.

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The Academic Network of European Disability Experts (ANED) releases thematic Report

In May, ANED released a new thematic report concerning the advances across Europe to   “respect, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities to live independently and to be included in the community”. The report is based on several studies completed by ANED country experts earlier this year across 35 European States.

The report can be found at this link, along with East-to-read versions and country focuses.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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

 

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