As we roll out our activities for 2019, we can reflect on how 2018 was a defining year for the European Social Network (ESN). Amidst insecurities caused by Brexit, the Secretariat was relocated from Brighton (UK) to Brussels whilst still delivering on the annual programme. Our Annual Review in five languages, summarized below, has an overview of all our work.

ESN’s chair, Christian Fillet sets out ESN’s vision to make a giant leap forward and continue our dedication towards a more social Europe, despite setbacks like Brexit and budget cuts in the public sector. In 2018, we continued our commitment to connect local social services to the EU, bringing our members to Brussels to provide input to the European Commission. Key trends and priorities are shared in our European Semester 2019 publication.

Last year, we hosted 322 social services professionals in our activities co-funded by the European Commission, with 172 of them at our Inclusive Activation seminar in Vienna organised in cooperation with the Austrian Presidency of the European Council and the City of Vienna, our member. The seminar was particularly important as we launched our #InclusiveActivation approach to long-term unemployment and social inclusion as well as our Inclusive Activation Toolkit.

To continue exchanging good practice we established our Working Group on Integrated Care and Support, with a focus on children. Going beyond the European agenda and into the global one, we launched a Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and published a Policy Briefing with key messages from our members.

Finally, we hosted 610 delegates from 39 countries at our annual conference in Seville, with the Regional Government of Andalusia as main partner alongside Seville County Council and La Caixa Banking Foundation. The bar is set high for our 2019 Conference in Milan ‘Striving for Quality’.

Our success in 2018 is a combination of a growing network, improved communications, and a commitment from our partners, institutional and private.

Alfonso Lara Montero, our Chief Executive, promises that in 2019 ESN will keep working towards sustainable social services for all.