We took part in a strategic dialogue organised by the European Commission to review four country reports: Latvia, Portugal, Bulgaria and Lithuania.

On 27 February, the European Commission published the 2019 country reports of the European Semester, the second step in the annual cycle of economic and social policy coordination between the Member States and the European Commission.

Country reports highlight areas where each Member State should focus in order to fulfil the Europe 2020 targets. Based on the country reports, national plans and country specific recommendations will be issued.

On 12 March, Valentina Guerra, ESN Policy Officer, took part in a strategic dialogue organised by the European Commission to review four country reports: Latvia, Portugal, Bulgaria and Lithuania. Members of ESN’s Reference Group on the European Semester also took part in the meeting and had the opportunity to give their feedback on the social aspects of their country reports.

Focus more on the contribution of social services in combatting poverty

In the meeting we called for more in-depth analysis of the role of social services in reducing poverty. Whilst the adequacy of social protection systems is comprehensively analysed, more emphasis should be put on integrated plans involving social services which can combat poverty.

Our members have described the powerful effect social services can have in transforming people’s lives. Our Inclusive Activation report shows tailored support that provides access to a variety of services can help people to achieve their personal goals and overcome challenges. Central to achieve this goal is the organisation of services around one-stop-shops and case managers. Some examples are:

  • The City of Offenbach, Germany: ‘Youth-to-Work-Agencies’ provide a one-stop-shop service, where professionals from different teams provide care and support under one roof.
  • Regional Government of Galicia, Spain: Case management with inmates in the prison of Teixeiro increases their chances of reintegration in society. Personalised plans are key in the case management, by making inmates more committed to achieving their goals.

We also pointed out that a broader definition of social inclusion should be featured in the country reports; one that goes beyond employability and considers all individual needs, such as social, health, education, housing and employment in an integrated manner.

ESN’s Reference Group on the European Semester

ESN has been analysing the European Semester since 2014, through a Reference Group which represents local public social servicesOur latest annual report, based on the Group’s input, emphasises that significant local challenges remain despite improving macro-economic conditions.

In October, ESN will publish the full analysis conducted by the Group in 2019. It will be shared with the European Commission, with the aim of providing a valuable connection to the social issues faced at local level and offering insights into policies that can contribute to the implementation of the principles included in the European Pillar of Social Rights.  

 

Resources

Connecting Social Services to Europe: European Semester 2019

Implementing the Sustainable Development Agenda: the Role of Social Services

Tools for Inclusive Activation: Improving the social exclusion of people furthest from the labour market