Supporting those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become clear that recovery from the crisis will require effort at European level through the use of EU recovery funds to support the most affected economic sectors across Europe. ESN members, many of them with responsibility for managing EU structural funds in public authorities across Europe, call for public social services to be included in the recovery instruments designed at European and national levels.

Crucial moment for EU recovery funds and public social services

There are currently a number of mechanisms on the negotiating table at European level with the potential to help public social services address the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis. EU recovery funding instruments, such as the NextGenerationEU package and its Recovery and Resilience Facility, along with the REACT-EU programme, aim to mitigate the economic, but also the social impact of the crisis. Both are possible sources of funding for several programmes led by public social services across Europe that are aiming to protect those most affected by the pandemic and promote social inclusion and cohesion.

Critical for accessing EU recovery funding will be the inclusion of social priorities in the recovery and resilience plans currently being drafted by all EU Member States. Engagement of public social services in regional and local authorities in the process developed by national authorities is crucial to ensure that the priorities are designed based on the needs on the ground and that these needs are supported by EU funds. However, public social services across Europe are facing several challenges in doing so.  

Being informed and involved

Public social services at regional and local authorities have been reporting lack of information on how European funds may be articulated in their respective countries. This extends to the development of the recovery plans and national views on EU recovery instruments, such as NextGenerationEU. ESN members are calling for the inclusion of public social services in regional and local authorities in the discussions on priorities setting and distribution of European resources to address the social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Social services are an essential component of Europe’s recovery from the social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic both in terms of social inclusion and protection, but also in promoting job creation and local development across Europe.