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For the first time after the European Parliamentary elections, European leaders met recently to decide who gets top EU jobs. The political platform of centre-right, centre left and liberals that supported the Commission’s president in the European Parliament in 2019 has a majority. However, these elections also resulted in big gains for nationalist and far-right parties, particularly in France and Germany, and several EU leaders expressed concerns about the names floated for top positions like the Commission’s president, the president of the European Council and EU’s top diplomat.

What does this mean for social policies and specifically social services development and transformation? The election results can affect the level of attention and resources dedicated to vulnerable populations, including older people, people with disabilities, or children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Policy direction and priorities

The composition of the European Parliament influences which social policies are prioritised. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) can propose, amend, and vote on legislation affecting social services. The European Pillar of Social Rights outlines principles for fair and well-functioning labor markets and welfare systems. The Parliament's composition can influence how these principles are implemented and enforced.

Different political groups and alliances within the Parliament have varying views on social services. For instance, some parties might advocate for increased funding and expansion of social programmes, while others may push for austerity measures and reduced public spending.

Funding and resources

The European Parliament has a say in the EU budget, so the election results can impact funding levels for programmes under the European Social Fund (ESF), which supports social inclusion initiatives. Decisions made by the European Parliament can also affect the distribution of structural funds aimed at reducing regional disparities, which often include funding for social infrastructure and services.

Future Outlook

The focus on modernising social services may be influenced by the political priorities of the elected Parliament. For the European Social Network members, there are four key themes we would like MEPs to prioritise:

  • Promote Social Services Financial Sustainability

Encourage an assessment of social services sustainable financing in the framework of the European Semester of policy coordination between the EU and national governments.

  • Revamp the European Social Services Quality Framework

Propose the EU undertakes a review of the 2010 European Voluntary Quality Framework in Social Services and promotes a new Framework to ensure its principles, standards and indicators are up to date with current best practice and revolve around improving the life outcomes of people using social services.

  • Incentivise a Person-centred Community-Based model of Care

Call for a European Community Care initiative, which ensures that EU funds are not used for institutional care and focus instead on community-based programmes, and promotes a ‘care guarantee for all’ to help people who may be at a disadvantaged situation access the care or support they need.

  • Launch a European Social Services Workforce Strategy

Advocate for a European Social Services Workforce Strategy that addresses growing demand for professionals, recruitment and retention innovative approaches, mutual recognition of qualifications, and continuing professional development.

Election outcomes shape long-term social policies, including responses to demographic and social challenges. Strategic planning and policy-making in these areas depend on the political climate set by the elections. The next European Parliament can significantly impact the direction and funding of social services in Europe. MEPs can play a key role in developing and shaping policies and frameworks that ensure the quality and accountability of social services, affecting how effectively social services are managed and delivered across Europe.