EEG Members’ initiatives on Ukraine

The ongoing war in Ukraine has already caused the death of thousand of civilians and the massive fleeing of people from their homes. As the mediation process is still in progress and there has not been any indication of a de-escalation of the conflict, the number of people seeking safety from the war is expected to increase.

In these circumstances, EEG members have taken several initiatives not to leave behind and expose to further risks people in need of support.

Here you can find the list of EEG members’ initiatives to support children, people with disabilities, homeless people and people experiencing mental health problems in Ukraine:

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Deinstitutionalisation should remain a priority for EU funding

EEG’s analysis of Recovery Plans and recommendations for 2022 European Semester

The European Semester represents an important process to strengthen not only economic and fiscal reforms but also social inclusive policies among the European Union (EU) Member States. While the 2021 European Semester mechanisms had been halted to allow a better response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2022 European Semester goes back to its original cycle with the adoption of country reports and country-specific recommendations by the European Commission. It will, however, still pay particular attention to the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs). In order to inform the European Semester outputs, the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-Based Care (EEG) has consulted its members and gathered information on the process of deinstitutionalisation (DI) and on the development of community-based care. The EEG has been focusing on 12 Member States being Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.

The EEG has submitted its findings to support the European Commission in promoting inclusive NRRPs and in the writing of country-specific recommendations which will be published in May 2022. Indeed, through this contribution the EEG aims to support the implementation of the standards in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the UN guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and the European Fundamental Rights Charter.

The EEG country fact-sheets delineate the existing situation of the DI process – including improvements and ongoing problems – and point out the main weaknesses as well as strengths of the NRRPs.

Concerning the situation of children within the Member States we have analysed, the EEG has pointed out that the number of children in institutional care has not undergone considerable changes in last 2 years (only Spain and Bulgaria have seen decreases). In most of the cases, children in residential care were in institutions: while in some states almost the totality of children in alternative care remain in already existing institutions, the EEG expressed concern about the inclusion of the construction of new institutions in some NRPPs (such as Belgium’s). Moreover, the EEG has identified poverty and lack of economic support as being among the main reasons for the institutionalisation of children; other reasons include lack of community-based services able to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, marginalisation, neglect, abuse, a lack of family support services in the community or migration. In the case of asylum-seeking children, they might end up staying in the institutional care system until they reach the age of maturity or, as in the case of Hungary, they might end up being confined in transit zone areas. In its analysis, the EEG has also highlighted a lack of data collection and disaggregated data which prevent the implementation of efficient policies and reforms towards deinstitutionalisation. The transition process from institutional to community-based care is further hindered by the absence of a defined strategy on a regional or community level: this is particularly true for those countries which have autonomous administration within the same country, like Spain, Belgium and Italy.

In the examined countries, the EEG has also analysed the situation and promotion of independent living for persons with disabilities. In its findings, the EEG remarked both a worsening and an improvement of the general trends depending on the Member State: some Member States (like France, Croatia and Portugal) have seen the number of people in institutions increasing during the last year due to the lack of community-based and person-centered services. This has also been enhanced by the incorrect use of EU funding going towards the deinstitutionalisation process and by the lack of available social housing. Some positive changes have also been noted on a political and legal level: for example, Greece worked to promote a National Deinstitutionalisation Strategy and Hungary has made changes to the constitution to support community-based services. Nevertheless, such changes have been weak in their implementation due to the lack of data and an incorrect approach towards the concept of deinstitutionalisation. In its review of Member States, the EEG has also been focusing on the Mental Health services and on persons with mental health issues in institutions. Overall, the EEG has outlined an increase in the number of people with mental health needs within institutions despite the launch – in few countries – of political reforms aiming to promote community-based mental health centres. Furthermore, when considering the situation of persons with disabilities, the EEG has defined the lack of clear and quantifiable targets, lack of economic support, and the lack of data availability as further elements that contribute to institutionalisation.

Finally, in the analysis of the Countries’ Recovery and Resilience Plans, the EEG has identified common recommendations for the considered Member States:

  • The transition from institutions to community-based care needs to follow UNCRPD and UNCRC principles; moreover, NRRPs need to exclude funding to new or pre-existing institutions and need to fix clear targets in the transition process.
  • To prevent child separation from their families, it is important that NRRPs include measures and programmes to prevent risk of poverty; inclusive education reforms are also very important to stop the institutionalisation of children with disabilities. Moreover, NRRPs should focus on increasing foster care provision and develop a wide range of support options in the community.
  • NRRPs should promote further research into the monitoring and collection of data. This should be applied specifically in the data concerning children (including children deprived of parental care), children with disabilities, people with mental health needs and persons with disabilities.
  • There should be a greater focus on social housing and on facilitating the process of access to available social housing.
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EEG condolences on the death of President Sassoli

The EEG would like to express its deepest condolences for the loss of David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament. Mr Sassoli’s engagement in upholding children’s rights and the rights of persons with disabilities made him a valuable ally as a person and as a policy maker.

As an association, we will remember with his leadership against inequality and the defense of these most at risk of exclusion.

The EEG’s thoughts go out to Mr Sassoli’s family, his loved ones and all Europeans.

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The Recovery and Resilience Fund as a means to creating community and family-based care

The online event “The Recovery and Resilience Facility as a means to creating community and family-based care”, which took place on the 18th of November 2021, aimed to provide an overview of the opportunities and the risks that the Recovery and Resilience Facility might fuel within the European Union.

In 2021, the EEG has been monitoring the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), its investments for social resilience and recovery since out of the six pillars of the RRF most of them aim at inclusive growth; social cohesion; health & social resilience; and policies for future generations. The Expert Group publicly called for the EU and its Member States to commit to investing this money into deinstitutionalisation (DI) as well as in community-based services, and strictly forbidding any investments in institutions. The EEG also has been reiterating the higher impact of the pandemic on people residing in institutions.

Moderated by Haydn Hammersley, Social Policy Officer at the European Disability Forum and EEG co-chair, the event gathered almost 70 representatives from ministries of different countries, the European Commission and national and European civil society organisations.

The meeting opened with a video message by Commissioner Helena Dalli in which she highlighted that the RRF must respect the principles of gender equality and equal opportunities for all. She also encouraged Member States to put in place an inclusive process to monitor the implementation of the National Recovery Plans by including NGOs active in the area of equality and inclusion. She concluded with the following call: “Let us all contribute to a Union of Equality”.

At the beginning of the event, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities Gerard Quinn, has also stressed the fundamental role of the European Union as world leader in the implementation of deinstitutionalization policies (read full speech).

The event showed that the RRF truly represents a once-in-a-life occasion to boost the process of deinstitutionalisation and that these funds need to be carefully monitored in their use. Attendees also got insights in various NRRPs such as those of Romania, Portugal and Greece.

The EEG provided several examples of concrete projects which introduce indicators for monitoring of DI progress, promote housing initiatives and support young people entering into adulthood out of residential homes, including people with disabilities and homeless people.

Read the full report to find out how these funds can support deinstitutionalisation in Europe

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EEG’s main findings on the submitted Recovery & Resilience National Plans

Since the beginning of the year, the EEG has been following closely the work around the Recovery and Resilience Facility. We analysed several draft Recovery and Resilience National Plans[1], and shared country-specific recommendations with the European Commission based on each of the draft plans. Furthermore, in May the EEG published the statement “Recovery and Resilience Facility must support community inclusion, not segregation”, calling on the EU and its Member States to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the EU’s commitment towards deinstitutionalisation, and thus not allow for any investments in institutions to be included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRPs).

With the aim to verify whether the EEG’s recommendations were taken into account in the negotiations between the European Commission and Member States, and to assess whether the RRPs submitted to the European Commission still foresee investments into residential institutions[2], the EEG has analysed the final adopted plans. We hope our assessment will help the European Commission in its steering role during the implementation phase by identifying best practices and which parts require special attention.

EEG’s main findings

The EEG has identified several important measures in the final RRPs, such as improving access to the labour market of persons with disabilities (including vocational training and rehabilitation), as well as various measures to improve accessibility of the built environment and transportation, capacity building of preschool facilities for children, measures in the education system to tackle the digital divide and inclusive education that affect pupils with disabilities, and others. We have also identified measures in the area of prevention of institutionalisation, community-based services and deinstitutionalisation, but unfortunately also some investments which might contribute to institutionalisation.

Find here all countries analysed and EEG’s main findings on each of the submitted Recovery and Resilience Plans


[1] The Recovery and Resilience Facility Plans analysed by the EEG are as follows: BG, CZ, FR, GR, HR, LV, PT, RO and SK.

[2] For people with disabilities, older people, children (including children with disabilities), people with mental health problems and homeless people.

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Online seminar about EU funds for independent living and deinstitutionalisation

On the 28th of June, the European Commission jointly with the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care and Hope and Homes for Children organised an online seminar for desk officers from DG EMPL, REGIO, RECOVER, NEAR and REFORM. The aim of the webinar was to inform the European Commission about the tools and good practices supporting independent living and family-and community-based care in light of the new funding regulations and policies.

The event counted on the participation of several speakers from the European Commission, academia, and civil society organisations presenting main EU policies and EEG publications, as well as practical examples on independent living.

Mr Loris di Pietrantonio, Head of Unit at DG EMPL responsible for programming and implementation of the European Social Fund +, opened the event followed by Professor Julie Beadle-Brown, who presented the report on the Transition from Institutional Care to Community-Based Services in 27 EU Member States, which she co-authored together with Professor Jan Šiška.

ProfessorBeadle-Brown presented the main finding of the study. During her intervention, she also stressed the need to develop person-centred and individualised support, the lack of affordable community-based services and housing, and the sustainability of EU-funded projects that promote deinstitutionalisation.

Ms Inmaculada Placencia Porrero, Senior Expert on social affairs at DG EMPL, presented a broad overview of the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, focusing on aspects connected to deinstitutionalisation and independent living. Among the actions foreseen in the Strategy, it was emphasized the guidance, which will be issued by the Commission by 2023, with recommendations to Member States aiming at improvements on independent living and inclusion in the community, in order to enable persons with disabilities to live in accessible, supported housing in the community, or to continue living at home (including personal assistance schemes). In addition, the speaker also presented the European Accessibility Act, in its connection with independent living.

Ms Michela Costa, Director of Global & EU Advocacy at Hope and Homes for Children,presented the updated version of EU funds Checklist to Promote Independent Living and Deinstitutionalisation. The purpose of the checklist is to ensure EU funds in the 2021-2027 programming period contribute to independent living and inclusion in the community. More specifically, the checklist supports EC Desk Officers to check the consistency of the measures with the legal and policy frameworks in the fields of:

  • Transition from institutional to family-based and community-based services for children, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems and elderly persons
  • Development of quality family-based and community-based services
  • Prevention of separation of children, including with disabilities, from their families
  • Prevention of segregation and institutionalisation of children, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems, older people and homeless people, regardless of the residence status.

Finally, EEG members presented practical examples of community-based services. Ms Irene Bertana, Senior Policy Officer at the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), presented an EU-funded project on providing technical assistance on preparing of the deinstitutionalisation strategy in Greece. Ms Ines Bulic, Deputy Director at the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), presented a practical example about personal assistance as one of the types of community-based support.

Participants posed questions to speakers, mainly regarding the implementation of community-based services given the obstacles related to the lack of accessibility of buildings in many EU countries and regarding the sustainability of investing in  deinstitutionalisation. They have also raised questions about residential care for children with disabilities, in particular how to ensure best care in family-based care, and how to develop family-based services and increase number of foster families. The European Child Guarantee was mentioned as a tool to address those needs. The online seminar provided a space for both desk officers and members of the EEG to discuss the persistent questions and share the good practices as well as challenges and opportunities intertwined with the deinstitutionalisation process.

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Stop EU funding of new institutions for people with disabilities in Poland, EEG says

In 2020 the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) contacted the European Commission to voice serious concerns about a large-scale institution for 100 residents with mental health issues in the city of Łódź, Poland. It was a clear example of EU funds being invested in an institutional care setting, something which the EU Regulations covering investments from this source outline as being de facto ineligible for funding. In August 2020, EEG Member ENIL, together with the Validity Foundation, filed a formal complaint.

Nearly a year on, the planned investment, known as “Wyjątkowy dom”, is still going ahead and there has been no substantive response to justify its continuation.

The EEG urges the Łódź Voivodeship Managing Authority to halt plans for the construction of this institution and, in the case where this does not happen, calls on the European Commission to suspend its funding and encourage investment in community-based services.

The EEG defines an institution as any residential care where:

• residents are isolated from the broader community and/or compelled to live together;

• residents do not have sufficient control over their lives and over decisions which affect them; and

• the requirements of the organisation itself tend to take precedence over the residents’ individual needs.

The three-story former school building being converted into a care home is not compatible with the right to live independently and be included in the community, as affirmed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), ratified both by Poland and the EU. Specifically, it represents an infringement of CRPD Article 19, as well as its General Comment 5 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

While the project claims to aim at the “deinstitutionalisation of social services and care” – building a large-scale, congregated setting for persons coming from the whole region cannot be interpreted as deinstitutionalisation by any stretch of imagination. On the contrary, it contravenes the definition of a community-based service, and goes against the principles expressed in the EEG Common European Guidelines and Toolkit on the transition from institutional to community-based care.

Article 4(6) of the Common Provision Regulations (CPR) for the current funding period states that the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) have to be used in a manner which is compliant with the EU social inclusion policies and that ERDF should not be used to renovate or build new institutions.

This investment clearly fails to fulfil all the requirement above. It neither facilitates the rights of persons with support needs to choose where and with whom they live or to be included in the community, nor has the capacity to build support around each person’s individual requirements and preferences. The size of this setting alone raises alarm bells, clearly being an institution even in the most traditional sense of the term.

Beyond the infringement on the right to live independently and being included in the community, we also saw during the COVID-19 pandemic the tragic consequences of congregated living conditions. We therefore ask the Managing Authorities in Poland and the European Commission to look into this matter and take the necessary steps to ensure that the funding is redirected towards independent living, community-based and person-centred support, in compliance with the CRPD, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the CPR. Instead of the construction and extension of institutional settings, it is necessary to develop a range of services at community level, as well as to support personal assistance schemes.

About the EEG

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 UNICEF.

Contact: coordinator@deinstitutionalisation.com

The Statement is available in pdf here.

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European Child Guarantee prioritises children in alternative care

But a stronger commitment to end institutionalisation of children in the EU is required

The European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-Based Care (EEG) is a coalition representing children and their families, people with disabilities and their families, homeless people, people experiencing mental health problems, service providers, public authorities and UN organisations. The EEG members come together because we believe that the segregation and institutionalisation of all people must end.

Both the EU and its Member States are bound by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and all EU Member States are bound by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). To uphold the right to live independently and be included in the community, children have the right to grow up in a family.

EEG’s Reaction to the European Child Guarantee is available in pdf here.

——————————————————————————————————–

We welcome the adoption of the Council Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee that brings positive measures to lift children out of poverty and social exclusion. This is especially important considering that, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 4 children in the EU were living at risk of poverty. Disadvantaged children, including children with disabilities, children outside family care and at risk of losing parental care, homeless children and children of ethnic or migrant background, children living in precarious family situations deserve an adequate and targeted support. The European Child Guarantee must aim to break the cycle of disadvantage for those children.

Years of research show that institutions inflict long-term harm to children’s development. Children growing up in institutions tend to lag behind in their emotional development; many tend to have poor cognitive performance and lower than average IQs. In addition, children in these settings are at higher risk of abuse or neglect. Despite this extensive evidence there are still an estimated 345,000 children living in institutions in the EU today[1].

As a matter of clarification, an institution for children is understood to be any residential setting where ‘institutional culture’prevails. Institutional culture in terms of children can be defined as follows:

• Children are isolated from the wider community and obliged to live together;

• Children and their parents do not have sufficient control over their lives and over decisions that affect them;

• The institution’s requirements take precedence over a child’s individual needs[2].

While the EEG recognizes that the Child Guarantee will prioritise children in alternative (especially institutional) care as one of the target groups of the Recommendation and that it envisages to promote quality of family and community based care, the EEG would have preferred a stronger commitment through the Child Guarantee to end the institutionalisation of children across the EU.

In 2012, the European Expert Group developed the Common European Guidelines on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care aimed at guiding practitioners in implementing and supporting a sustained transition from institutional care to family-based and community-based alternatives for children, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems and older persons in Europe[3]. These guidelines attempt to clarify terminology related to institutional care.

Unfortunately, different interpretations of some of the key terms remain. Despite having the issue of deinstitutionalisation high on the agenda of EU policies as well as EU funding for nearly 10 years[4], the newly published European Child Guarantee states in  

Recital 24 that:

With the aim of the de-institutionalisation of children, quality community-based or family-based care should be promoted. Placing children in institutional care should be done only when it is in the best interests of the child, taking into account the child’s overall situation and considering the child’s individual needs.

And in

Article 10d:

“(d) take into account the best interests of the child as well as the child’s overall situation and individual needs when placing children into institutional or foster care; ensure the transition of children from institutional or foster care to quality community-based or family-based care and support their independent living and social integration”.

In accordance with the ‘Suitability’ principle of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children[5], the care setting in which children are placed needs to be one that protects and promotes the child’s full and harmonious development and is suitable for the child’s individual needs. The most natural environment for a child’s healthy development is in a family. Therefore, placement in alternative family-based care, such as with extended family members (kinship care) or with non-related families (foster care) is the preferred option.

The Guidelines further stress that countries should move away from placing children in institutions: “where large residential care facilities (institutions) remain, alternatives should be developed in the context of an overall deinstitutionalisation strategy, with precise goals and objectives, which will allow for their progressive elimination[6].

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which has been ratified by the European Union and all Member States, recognizes that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in all decisions affecting them (Article 7(2)), requires States to protect the right to family life (Article 23) and to ensure all children have the right to be included in the community (Article 19). According to the General Comment No. 5, on Article 19 of the Convention, “[f]or children, the core of the right to be included in the community entails a right to grow up in a family.” Full implementation of the CRPD is especially important, considering that children with disabilities are overly represented in institutional care, largely due to the lack of family support services and outdated beliefs that they are better cared for in institutions.

Recital 24 seeks to restrict the circumstances in which children could be placed in institutional care by reflecting the elements which form the basis of the suitability principle. However, by failing to frame it within the deinstitutionalisation strategy and Child Guarantee Action Plans leaves space to Member States to institutionalise children with no end in sight, under the argument that it is for their best interest and that the child’s individual needs were considered.

Both recital 24 and Article 10d in the Child Guarantee constitute a limitation in an otherwise progressive and ambitious instrument.

Moreover, the current text of Article 10d is an attestation of the difficulties which arise when there is no unified definition of key terminology in this area as well as a lack of consensus of which different types of alternative care for children are acceptable. The term ‘alternative care’ is broad enough to include all forms of care for children.

Specifically on foster care and family-based care, it is important to underline that family-based care includes foster care. Therefore, asking for  the transition from foster care to family-based care is actually asking for the same thing with different words[7].  It is necessary to ensure that, when implementing the Child Guarantee, Member States will observe the difference between “institutional care” and “foster care”. Furthermore, the current wording is not in line with the Common provisions regulation[8] and the enabling conditions 4.3 for ERDF and EFS+ that states that “A national strategic policy framework for social inclusion and poverty reduction is in place that includes: Measures for the shift from institutional to community-based care”.

In order to avoid similar situations as this one, it is important to work on common European definitions on alternative care for children and to agree on a  clear set of indicators which can be used to measure progress in the de-institutionalisation strategies of Member States. The EEG offers its expertise to be a part of this process to ensure that no child is placed in institutional care.


[1] Speech by Commissioner Dalli “Towards Inclusion 2020: What is the vision of the future of deinstitutionalisation and role of EU?” | European Commission (europa.eu)

[2] Further information can be found in Guidelines-new.indd (wordpress.com) and eeg-di-report-2020-1.pdf (wordpress.com)

[3] Guidelines-new.indd (wordpress.com)

[4] See: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/policy/themes/social-inclusion/desinstit/. See also the “Špidla Report” available at: https://deinstitutionalisationdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/report-fo-the-ad-hoc_2009.pdf andUnion of equality: Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030 – Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion – European Commission (europa.eu)

[5] Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children : (un.org)

[6] Ibid, p. 5.

[7] You can find the precise definition of alternative care for children here: https://www.unicef.org/eca/definitions.

[8] EUR-Lex – 52018PC0375 – EN – EUR-Lex (europa.eu)

Endnote

The Reaction has been also endorsed by the following oganisations, partners of the EU Alliance for Investing in Children:

  • Dynamo International
  • European Anti-Poverty Network – EAPN
  • European Parents’ Association
  • European Public Health Alliance – EPHA
  • European Roma Grassroots Organisations – ERGO Network
  • Make Mothers Matter
  • Save the Children

Contact:

EEG’s coordinator, Bárbara Oliveira Marcondes, coordinator@deinstitutionalisation.com.

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Impacts on the process of transition from institutional to family and community-based care in light of the Common Provisions Regulations, the European Regional Development Funds, and the European Social Funds + (2021-2027)

During the funding period 2014-2020, EU funds have played a crucial role in bringing persons with disabilities, children, older people and homeless people out of institutions. Despite this advances, progress still must be made, since there have been cases reported where the principles of deinstitutionalisation have not been respected and where money was invested in building or refurbishing institutional care settings.

In order to ensure EU funds are not used to promote institutionalisation in EU Member States, the EEG and its member organisations have advocated to influence the wording in the texts of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) and the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF).

The aim of this article is to highlight the successful advocacy work done by the EEG and its members, which were taken into account in the final texts of both the CPR and the ERDF and to point out some of the articles that are particularly relevant to the EEG.

The full article is available in pdf here.

What are the CPR, the ERDF, and the ESF+

The Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) is a piece of over-arching legislation that applies to various EU funding programmes, including the European Social Fund + (ESF+) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It outlines rules that must be followed for the use of funds. It also outlines the criteria by which projects must adhere to be eligible for EU funding. The CPR sets out common provisions for seven shared management: the Cohesion Fund, the European Maritime funds and Fisheries Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund Plus, the Asylum and Migration Fund, the Border Management and Visa Instrument and the Internal Security Fund.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) invests in infrastructure, innovation and research, the digital agenda, support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the low-carbon economy. The aim is to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions.

As for the European Social Fund plus (ESF+), this is Europe’s main instrument to invest in people. The aim of the fund is to supports jobs, help people get better jobs and ensure fairer job opportunities for all EU citizens. The ESF+ finances the implementation of the principles from the European Pillar for Social Rights through actions in the area of employment, education & skills and social inclusion.[1] The fund is committed to building a socially inclusive society.

In 2018 the European Commission released its proposal for a new CPR, ERDF and ESF+ covering the period 2021-2027. In December 2020/January 2021 an agreement was reached between the European Parliament and the Council on the final wording of the Regulations.

The EEG and its members advocated extensively for the Regulations to include a number of provisions that would result in the Regional Development Fund being used more effectively for accessibility and deinstitutionalisation for persons with disabilities.

Relevant achievements to the EEG

We summarised the main advocacy achievements in the final texts of the CPR, the ERDF, and the ESF+. We will show you excerpts of the regulations to explain what the texts now look like. Writing in bold and italic indicated where new next has been added since the Commission’s original proposal was released. Where you see text in bold with a strike through, this shows text that used to exist but has been removed from the final version.

Common Provisions Regulation (CPR)[2]

  • Article 67, on the selection of operations by the managing authority, outlines the ways in which managing authorities shall go about selecting EU funded operations.

The final text states that the criteria and the procedures should be non-discriminatory. After advocacy work from the EEG, it also states clearly that the criteria and procedures must “ensure accessibility to persons with disabilities” as well as gender equality. This means that for all funding covered by the CPR, managing authorities must consider the impact it will have on accessibility for persons with disabilities and systematically turn away anything that perpetuates barriers. This is important because ensuring community living and inclusion means ensuring infrastructure and processes are accessible to all.

Final text of Article 67:

1. For the selection of operations, the managing authority shall establish and apply criteria and procedures which are non-discriminatory, transparent, ensure accessibility to persons with disabilities, gender equality and take account of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the principle of sustainable development and of the Union policy on the environment […]

  • Article 6 on partnership and multi-level governance explains how different stakeholders are included in selecting and monitoring how funds are used. It explains that this process should include “relevant bodies representing civil society, such as environmental partners, non-governmental organisations, and bodies responsible for promoting social inclusion, fundamental rights, rights of persons with disabilities, gender equality and non-discrimination”.

The EEG also successfully advocated for the article to mention that funds should be allocated towards capacity building for these stakeholders. This will mean that money should be able to be allocated to civil society organisations that want to be part of the partnership and multi-level governance process in their Member State, and to help them be better prepared for playing an active role.

Final text of Article 6:

1. For the Partnership Agreement and each programme, each Member State shall organise and implement a comprehensive partnership in accordance with its institutional and legal framework and taking into account the specificities of the Funds with the competent regional and local authorities. That partnership shall include at least the following partners:

(c) relevant bodies representing civil society, such as environmental partners, non-governmental organisations, and bodies responsible for promoting social inclusion, fundamental rights, rights of persons with disabilities, gender equality and non-discrimination.

2. The partnership established under paragraph 1 shall operate in accordance with the multi-level governance principle and a bottom-up approach. The Member State shall involve those partners in the preparation of Partnership Agreements and throughout the preparation and, implementation and evaluation of programmes including through participation in monitoring committees.

In that context, Member States shall, where relevant, allocate an appropriate percentage of the resources coming from the Funds for the administrative capacity building of social partners and civil society organisations. For Interreg programmes, the Partnership shall include partners from all participating Member States.

4. At least once a year, the Commission shall consult organisations which represent partners at Union level on the implementation of programmes, and shall report to the European Parliament and Council on the outcome.

  • Recital 5, at the beginning of the Regulation, gives an overview of the horizontal principles of how the funds covered by the CPR should be used. The Commission’s original proposal already stated that Member States should “respect the obligations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ensure accessibility in line with its article 9 and in accordance with the Union law harmonising accessibility requirements for products and services.” This has been retained in the final wording.

To this the co-legislators agreed to add the importance of respecting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. For persons with disabilities, the most significant additions were the mention that “the Funds should be implemented in a way that promotes the transition from institutional to family and community-based care” and that, when financing infrastructure, the funds “should ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities”.

Final text of Recital 5:

(5) Horizontal principles as set out in Article 3 of the Treaty on the European Union (‘TEU’) and in Article 10 of the TFEU, including principles of subsidiarity and proportionality as set out in Article 5 of the TEU should be respected in the implementation of the Funds, taking into account the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Member States should also respect the obligations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ensure accessibility in line with its article 9 and in accordance with the Union law harmonising accessibility requirements for products and services. In that context, the Funds should be implemented in a way that promotes the transition from institutional to family and community-based care. Member States and the Commission should aim at eliminating inequalities and at promoting equality between men and women and integrating the gender perspective, as well as at combating discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The Funds should not support actions that contribute to any form of segregation or exclusion, and, when financing infrastructure, should ensure the accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Final text of the “Thematic Enabling Conditions” (Annex IV)

Policy objectiveSpecific objectiveName of enabling conditionFulfilment criteria for the enabling condition
4 -A more social Europe by implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights  ERDF: 4.3 increasing the socioeconomic integration of marginalised communities, migrants and disadvantaged groups, through integrated measures including housing and social services (…)National strategic policy framework for social inclusion and poverty reduction (…)A national strategic policy framework for social inclusion and poverty reduction is in place that includes:  (…) 3. Measures for the shift from institutional to community-based care   4. Arrangements for ensuring that its design, implementation, monitoring and review is conducted in close cooperation with social partners and relevant civil society organisations. (…)
4 -A more social Europe by implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights  ERDF: 4.4 ensuring equal access to health care through developing infrastructure, including primary care (…)Strategic policy framework for health. (…)A national or regional strategic policy framework for health is in place that contains: (…) 3. Measures to promote community-based services, including prevention and primary care, home-care and community-based services. (…)

As laid down in the table above, a more social Europe through the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights is one of the policy objectives listed. One of the ERDF specific objectives, it is to increase “the socioeconomic integration of marginalised communities, migrants and disadvantaged groups, through integrated measures including housing and social services”. This shall be done through a national strategic policy framework for social inclusion and poverty reduction in place that includes “3. Measures for the shift from institutional to community-based care”; and  “4. Arrangements for ensuring that its design, implementation, monitoring and review is conducted in close cooperation with social partners and relevant civil society organisations”.

Still on the policy objective for a more social Europe through the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, One of the ERDF specific objectives, it is to ensure “equal access to health care through developing infrastructure, including primary care”. This shall be done by a national or regional strategic policy framework for health that, amongst others, contain “Measures to promote community-based services, including prevention and primary care, home-care and community-based services.”

Important to note that table above only contains the most relevant information for the work of the EEG.

European Regional Development Funds (ERDF)[3]

Article 2 on Specific objectives for the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund outlines the objectives for the use of this fund and the Cohesion fund. It is an article of key importance giving direction to how the money will be used in the Member States.

The most crucial amendment the EEG wa able to get accepted into the text were the mention of the need to invest in “promoting the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care”.

Final text of Article 2:

  1. In accordance with the policy objectives set out in Article [4(1)] of Regulation (EU) 2018/xxxx[new CPR], the ERDF shall support the following specific objectives:

(iv) ensuring equal access to health care and fostering resilience of health systems, including primary care, and promoting the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care;

Article 6 on exclusion from the scope of the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund was one of the key areas of the EEG’s advocacy on the ERDF. One of the biggest issues we have seen with the use of funds over previous funding periods is that money is still invested in renovating and building institutions. In this article on what is excluded from the scope of the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund, we were successful in having a new recital introduced. This recital states that the ERDF should support deinstitutionalisation, prevent funding segregated living conditions and seek to ensure independent living conditions.

Article 6 final text:

new recital (x) The ERDF should support and promote transition from institutional to community or family-based care through supporting facilities that would seek to prevent segregation from the community, would facilitate the integration of people to the society and would seek to ensure independent living conditions.

European Social Funds Plus (ESF+)[4]

The EEG is pleased to see that 2021-2027 funding regulations for the European Social Fund plus (ESF+) have recognised the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care as the issue that deserve investments. Moreover, the ESF+ will become one of the main tools to trigger investments to tackle child poverty and social exclusion.

The greatest achievement among all, is the Council Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee. The agreement foresees that 5% of this budget will be used to tackle child poverty. This means that EU member states with an average of EU child poverty higher than the EU average of 23.4% will have to allocate at least 5% of their ESF+ financial resources to fight child poverty and social exclusion. Children in institutions, children with disabilities and homeless children are among the main target groups.

Although we have advocated for higher percentage the European Social Fund plus should invest 25% of its resources for social inclusion as indicated in Article 7 on thematic concentration:

Final text of Article 7 (3) – Consistency and thematic concentration

3.  Member States shall allocate at least 25% of their ESF+ resources under shared management to the specific objectives for the social inclusion policy area set out in points (vii) to (x) of Article 4(1), including the promotion of the socio-economic integration of third country nationals.

Article 7, (3)  is an important progress since no ring-fencing of ESF for social inclusion was in 2014-2020 funding period.

Finally, meaningful involvement of civil society in programming, implementation, and evaluation of ESF+ is key to deliver the best possible outcomes. Therefore, we are pleased to see that partnership is reiterated (Article 8) as well as support for capacity building of stakeholders including CSOs by 0,25% of ESF+ resources:

Final text of Article 8 – Partnership

  1. Each Member State shall ensure adequate participation of social partners and civil society organisations in the delivery of employment, education and social inclusion policies supported by the ESF+ strand under shared management.
  2. Member States shall allocate an appropriate amount of ESF+ resources under shared management in each programme for the capacity building of social partners and civil society organisations, including in the form of training, networking measures, and strengthening of the social dialogue, and to activities jointly undertaken by the social partners.

When capacity building of social partners and civil society organisations is identified by a relevant country-specific recommendation adopted in accordance with Article 121(2) TFEU and Article 148(4) TFEU, the concerned Member State shall allocate an appropriate amount of at least 0.25% of ESF+ resources for that purpose.


[1] https://ec.europa.eu/esf/main.jsp?catId=62&langId=en.

[2] Available at: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6180-2021-INIT/en/pdf.

[3] Available at: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6181-2021-INIT/en/pdf.

[4] Available at: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6182-2021-INIT/en/pdf.

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The EEG endorses the Manifesto on Child Poverty and Social Exclusion in the EU

The EEG has endorsed the European Parliament – EU Alliance for Investing in Children Manifesto on Child Poverty and Social Exclusion in the EU.

On the topic of deinstitutionalisation of children, the Manifesto calls on the Child Guarantee to not present the placement of children in institutional care as a last resort. Instead, EU Member States should invest in child protection, high quality support services starting from early childhood interventions to support families and prevent separation, and the provision of quality community- and family-based alternative care. Adequate services should be provided to prepare children leaving care in order to support their independent living and social integration, including for unaccompanied migrant children.

The placement of children in emergency shelters should also be avoided. To prevent and address homelessness, EU Member States should provide stable and adequate housing for children and their families, accompanied by social support services.

The full Manifesto is available here.

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