2/ Country Recommendations (http://ec.europa.eu/growthandjobs/pdf/european-dimension-200712-annual-progress-report/200712-countries-specific-recommendations_en.pdf)
3/ Proposals for the 2005-2008 Guidelines see http://ec.europa.eu/growthandjobs/pdf/european-dimension-200712-annual-progress-report/200712-annual-report-integrated-guidelines_en.pdf
The guidelines proposed remained unchanged, with only rationales reworded including more reference to active inclusion and flexicurity. The guidelines have been officially adopted by the Council in July: see adopted version. Some of the changes inserted in the narratives are useful to get in mind and to use in our lobbying work. See EAPN briefing on the new guidelines, issued on 4 September.
Resources and information:
Information available on Europa website
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/employment_strategy/index_en.htm Responsible for the Employment strategy as part of the Lisbon Strategy: National level: National Ministries in charge of employment and economic affairs, social partners, Members of the Employment Committee European level: DG EMPL. (Robert Strauss, Unit D2 principally
Two main key themes are currently dominating the Employment Strategy:
→ Activation and Make Work Pay (activation is also one pillar of the active inclusion notion, see below section 5.2. )
Make Work Pay is the approach agreed on and regularly promoted by the Employment Committee. → Flexicurity
The EMCO prepared a draft paper on Flexicurity in times of Crisis (to be found here) to serve as basis for its discussion on flexicurity, scheduled for the second part of 2009. The document defines flexicurity as a combination between contractual flexibility and strengthened ALMP. Security is understood mainly as increasing people’s employability by upgrading their skills. The European Commission is preparing a workshop on flexicurity on 27 April, to provide policy input for the Employment Troika Summit at the beginning of May.
12/2008 - The Mission for Flexicurity of the European Commission prepared and released in December 2008 a Report, looking at the implementation of the flexicurity principles across Member States. The report reviewed the situation in France, Sweden, Finland, Poland and Spain, and it is available here. The Czech Presidency of the European Union also announced, in the official programme, that they will prepare Conclusions on flexicurity
24/09/2008 - the Commission organised a Mutual learning seminar to discuss the first results of the Mission, EAPN as well as other NGOs participated actively (see http://www.mutual-learning-employment.net/thematicreviews/)
01/2008 - A Mission for Flexicurity (see Europa webpage) has been established, and visited 5 Member States for discussing in depth the state of play as regards the development and implementation of the national pathways based on the common Flexicurity principles agreed at the European Council in December 2007. As part of a mutual learning perspective, these visits will also give the opportunity to other Member States as well as to other relevant participants to take part in the discussion.. The final Mission Report will be presented in December 2008 to the Employment ministers. It will aim at proposing concrete suggestions to encourage the implementation of flexicurity policies, taking into account the common principles and "typical pathways" of flexicurity identified by the Commission Communication of June 2007:The Commission's public initiative should help Member States prepare their first report on the implementation of the national pathways based on the common principles, in the framework of the National Reform Programmes of Autumn 2008.
11/2007 - After a Commision proposal has been widely debated at EU level, the EPSCO Council adopted common principles on flexicurity → New Skills for New Jobs EAPN contributed with a paper on Skills and Mobility to the recent debate in the Employment Committee on these issues. This agenda, which has been pushed forward by the Commission with the support of the Czech Presidency in the past months, has not been adequately poverty proofed, and a number of concerns still remain to be discussed, so that the proposed measures help improve the lives of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion on the ground. The response, prepared by the Secretariat together with the Employment Working Group, can be read here.
16/12/2008 - The European Commission released its “New Skills for New Jobs” communication, providing a first assessment of labour market and skills needs up to 2020 and a mapping of existing anticipation instruments at national and European level. The document also proposes a more effective approach to ensure anticipation and matching between labour demand and supply through synergies between employment, training and education policies. The document, which features as a priority on the agenda of the Czech Presidency, will be discussed throughout the Year in the Employment Committee, and can be found here.
09/03/2009 - The EPSCO adopted, on March 9th, Council Conclusions on the “New Skills for New Jobs” communication. The document endorses the Commission communication, stressing the need for upgrading skills and providing access to quality education and lifelong learning for all, as well as for mapping-out and anticipating the labor market needs in order to ensure better skills matching. The document can be accessed here. The Spring Council Conclusions have also given additional impetus to this approach, viewed as the main medium- and long-term response to the crisis aftermath. The EMCO is carrying out an assessment (in its Ad-Hoc group) of this strategy. In line with the priorities of the Czech Presidency, the EMCO will also deepen its understanding of the link between skills and mobility. The opinion will be finalized on April 28th. The draft EMCO opinion can be found here, and the Commission’s background and discussion note – here → Social Economy 18/02/2009 - The European Parliament adopted (580 votes in favour, 27 against and 44 abstentions), last February 18th, the own-initiative report by MEP Patrizia Toia (ALDE, IT), dedicated to social economy. The report considers that "social economy enterprises […] need a secure legal framework, based on recognition of their specific values". The report also calls for a European legal framework to be devised by the Commission, enabling "territorial partnerships to be established and maintained between the social economy sector and local authorities", and for the Commission to look into "reactivating the budget heading specifically for the social economy". The adopted text can be found here The European Parliament Intergroup on Social Economy has launched its memorandum on social economy, in view of the upcoming European Parliament elections, which can be accessed here The EAPN Secretariat, as well as members of EAPN Austria, EAPN Romania, EAPN Poland and EAPN Malta are partners in a transnational exchange project on Social economy led by DIESIS and CGM, whose aim is to asses the policy support given to Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISE) in EU countries through a comparative review of legislation as well as National Action Plans for Inclusion and Employment and Operational Programmes.
Part of the social package unveiled in July 08 is devoted to ‘Investing in People, More and Better Jobs, New Skills’. It includes
- a Directive to improve the functioning of European Works Councils to ensure effective
social dialogue on restructuring operations.
- staff working documents, one encouraging and supporting Social Partners to step up their
efforts to anticipate and manage structural change and another highlighting the importance of company-based trans-national agreements;
- a Report on the European Globalisation Fund that reviews its first year of operation, indicates how procedures can be simplified and streamlined and suggests a number of ideas as to how the EGF could be improved. EAPN key positions and past actions EAPN has been actively involved in monitoring the European Employment Strategy, with a particular focus on its impact on poverty and social exclusion. Some of the key concerns have been to pressure for more quality of jobs, evaluation of making work pay strategies and the development of positive activation policies, which do not penalise and pressure vulnerable people into jobs at any price. A further concern has been to evaluate how far the EES incorporates the overall Nice objectives of “strengthening social cohesion and inclusion” and to highlight the weakness of the participation of NGO stakeholders in the development of the National Action Plans and the lack of independent evaluation.
EAPN actions on the EES have included responses to the revised European Employment guidelines, reviews of the National Action plans for Employment, position papers on Making Work Pay and Good Activation, as well as responses to relevant public consultations.
EAPN key references
(All key references can be found on the EAPN website www.eapn.eu
- Report on the Lisbon strategy and the National Reform Programmes (A Future worth having” March 2006)
- EAPN publication on employment Voices from the Poverty line (September 2006)
- EAPN position paper on flexicurity (October 2006)
EAPN has contributed to the Social Platform Position paper on Flexicurity
EAPN response to the Commission Green Paper on modernisation of Labour Law (March 2007)
EAPN response to the Commission Communication on flexicurity (July 2007)
See also issue of EAPN Network News (June 2007) devoted to Employment, including flexicurity.
Note: Concerns regarding employment are also integrated in EAPN inputs on Lisbon and Active Inclusion (see chapter 2 and 6 of this Policy Brief)
Contact person in the Secretariat: Vincent Caron + 32 2 226 58 54 firstname.lastname@example.org
EAPN groups in charge: Structural Funds Working Group
It is up to you! What you can do.
Working group members are encouraged to:
Disseminate the EAPN Social Inclusion & Structural Funds Survey to their national government and managing authorities to urge them to deliver more social inclusion and ensure a better involvement of the social inclusion NGOs in the Structural Funds.
Be in touch with their National and Regional managing Authorities to see how they can contribute to the 2010 year by showing how Structural Funds are a tool for tackling poverty and social exclusion.
Get in touch with their managing authorities to see if any change is foreseen to the Operational Programmes as a result of the crisis. Send EAPN any relevant information on how the funds are changed as a result of the crisis. Ensure that there is a real effort put on simplification and that our key concerns are taken into account.
Join the Communities of Practice set up on the different aspects of EQUAL, and call on their managing authorities to do so as well: www.esflive.eu
EAPN Networks are encouraged to try to contact the desk officer following their specific country (list), and to inform the secretariat of their main concerns.
For information – latest policy developments
19th October 2009
The European Commission launched a public consultation “Have your say on EU financial rules”. It will last till the 19th December 2009.
The European Commission invites all the stakeholders to give their views on the financial rules for the programmes funded by the budget of the EU and especially how they impact their day-to-day business and to suggest ways of improvement. It will help the Commission in its second review of the Financial Regulation and its Implementation Rules.
2 topics are addressed:
The award of grants: the question of more flexibility in the co-financing rules depending on the type of actions is posed.
The Commission’s handling of financial rules: the alternative of pre-financing payments and guarantees is explored.
The Commission will present its proposals in mid-2010
5-8th October 2009, Open Days 2009
Since 2003, the Open Days are the annual landmark event for Europe’s regions and cities. They provide an open forum of debate and networking opportunities for stakeholders from local and regional authorities, international organisations, business, civil society organisations and the media. 3 workshops were particulary interesting :
How to use ESF for workers in time of crisis : the objective of the workshop was to explore Member States” responses to the economic crisis in using ESF financial support and the effectiveness of these responses in fighting rising unemployment levels. There was a presentation of the European Employment Observatory which shows that all the measures undertaken by EU Member States were concentrated on maintaining jobs without almost no position activation measures to integrate the furthest from the labour market.
Social inclusion as an instrument for restoring growth and strengthening cohesion: The aim was to look at the role of social inclusion as an instrument of economic growth and territorial cohesion, placing social policy at the heart of economic policy. The needs of specific targeted groups were discussed such as the migrants, elderly young people.
Roma inclusion: Experiences from Cohesion Policy Programmes: the aim was to exchange experiences on working with and for Roma in the field of ESF. There were 4 examples coming from Slovakia, Hungary, Italy and Spain.
28th September 2009
The European Union (EU) Platform for Roma Inclusion, an open and flexible mechanism of governance organised jointly by the European Commission and the EU Presidency at the request of the Council, held its second meeting on the 28th of September 2009 in Brussels.
The Platform is a recent initiative, designed as a process driven by participants rather than a formal body. It has been established as a mechanism through which EU institutions, national governments, multilateral organisations, NGOs and experts share experiences and good practice in order to increase the coherence of existing policy initiatives and improve coordination between institutions.
The meeting focused on the issue of how to improve access by the Roma to quality education, considered as the fundamental precondition for the social inclusion of the Roma. An important theme of the meeting was the need for an integrated approach to education.
The European Commission will publish a report representing a follow-up of its analysis of Community instruments and policies for Roma inclusion in early 2010 (see IP/08/1072). This report will focus on the progress achieved since mid-2008.
The future Spanish EU Presidency and the European Commission will organise the second European Roma Summit on 8 April 2010 in Córdoba to assume the different strands of action. The first Roma Summit took place in Brussels on 16 September 2008 – see IP/08/1326and MEMO/08/559.
23th September 2009
With the approach of a new cycle of governance in the European Union, the Committee of the Regions proposed on the 23th September a political project to "build Europe in partnership" through its White Paper on Multilevel governance. The committee is launching a public consultation to sound out authorities, associations and stakeholders on how best to promote multilevel governance in Europe. The public consultation will last till the 30th of November. More information can be found here.
The Barca Report was published on April 29th 2009. This report is a major step forward in the framework of the discussion on the future of cohesion policy. The main points are the following :
Social Inclusion as one of the two core objectives of the cohesion policy
Management of the structural funds is incompetent
Restore the structural funds as means to develop regions territories
Re-orientate the structural funds away from local elites
Structural Funds should be governed from the Commission. The document can be found here.
The 6th interim Report on economic and social cohesion was published on June 25th 2009. It’s mainly focused on the regional dimension of creativty and innovation. The second part of this document summarize key outcomes from the Consultation on the Green Paper on territorial cohesion. This document can be found here.
On July 22th 2009, the European Commission presented new measures aiming at simplifying management rules for the Cohesion Policy. As part of the measures to combat the crisis;
The Commission may reimburse 100% of the costs declared by the Member States for projects financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) in 2009 and 2010. This document can be found here.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will be able to support the renovation or construction of housing for communities faced with social exclusion, particularly Roma, in both rural and urban areas. This document can be found here.
On July 24th 2009, the European Commission launched a call for proposals as part of the European Parliament’s Pilot Project on “Pan-European Coordination of Integration Methods for the Roma”. It deals with initiatives in the following areas: early childhood education and care, self-employment and microcredit, information and awareness raising. The maximum budget allocated by the European Union for the project is €4.5 million. The closing date for participation is 25 September 2009 for all areas of action. All the documents can be found here.
Since July 2009, Sweden has taken on the rotating presidency of the EU for 6 months (to be followed by Spain): among the priorities will be a progress in the debate on territorial cohesion, an evaluation of the action plan accompanying the European Union’s territorial agenda, the launch of a debate on “macro-regional” strategies following the recent adoption of the Baltic Sea regional strategy.
Key dates of meetings during the Swedish Presidency of the European Union:
10-11 November in Göteborg – conference on local and regional implementation of the future Lisbon Strategy
10-11 December in Kiruna – "Cohesion Policy and Territorial Development" conference
Debate on how to adapt cohesion policy as a result of the crisis is currently going on: the European Parliament unanimously adopted the European Commission’s proposal to change costs eligible to the ESF regulation (changing eligible costs) and supported as well a refocusing on energy efficiency in housing in the purpose of social cohesion. More information on the changes proposed can be found in EAPN’s presentation on the issue as well as here.
In line with EAPN’s recommendations, the 2009 Joint Report on Social Inclusion and Social Protection, published early March, calls for a strengthening of the interaction between the European Social Fund and the Open Method of Coordination on Social Protection and Social Inclusion. Its supporting document also contains information on how the funds have been implemented in the purpose of inclusion in the Member States. More detail can be found on the Commission’s webpage.
In January 2009, Commissioner Hubner presented the Commission’s priorities for cohesion policy in 2009: moving forward on debate around the future of the funds (2014-2020), adapting the funds and boosting their use as a result of the economic crisis, setting up of an expert group on simplification which should publish its results in May.
In January 2009, the Czech Republic has taken on the rotating presidency of the EU for 6 months (to be followed by Sweden): among the priorities will be simplification of the funds, debate on the future pf cohesion policy (major conference organised on 26-27 March in Prague).
The European Commission is currently undertaking a study on how to improve the links between structural funds and the Social OMC. EAPN has contacted the European Commission ESF unit to contribute. In addition, the topic was identified as a priority within the 2009 Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion.
EAPN Activities Upcoming activities: On February 19th and 20th 2010, the EAPN Structural Funds Working Group will meet in Ireland. This meeting will be focus on the follow up of 2010 activities and preparing input on the legacy. Past activities
15th of October 2009
In the context of the upcoming debate on the future of the Cohesion Policyand at almost mid-term of the current programming period of Structural Funds, EAPN stresses the crucial need to strengthen the link between Social Inclusion and Structural Funds, which is currently clearly insufficient. EAPN develops its views on how to make sure that the Cohesion Policy can be used as a driven force for an inclusive society in the two key following documents: - EAPN Survey on Structural Funds & Social Inclusion : EAPN conducted with its members a detailed study to assess the contribution of the current programming period of Structural funds to social inclusion and the role left by national managing authorities to social NGOs. The study also delivers key political messages for the post 2013.
- EAPN Public Response to the Barca Report : EAPN warmly welcomes the Barca Report as a major step forward for making the Cohesion Policy a powerful means to fight poverty and social exclusion, thanks to the newly promoted social inclusion objective and the place-based approach mobilising all local actors
More information can be found here
24th of September 2009
EAPN partipipated in the Stakeholder Learning Dialogue Event. This meeting organized in the framework of the European Commission Study on the Ex Post Evaluation of the 2000-2006 ESF Support to the OMC in Social Protection and Social Inclusion. Two focus groups were in charge of working on the following items:
The futures challenges to be faced by the ESF in the context of the Social OMC, and the key objectives and goals
An “Implementation Strategy” Task which explored the issue of the target groups and the kinds of actions and initiatives
A set of agreed answers to the questions previously discussed.
The most striking points raised during the meeting were the following:
The low level of social inclusion earmarking in the ESF
The necessity to enlarge the scope of target groups to be addressed by the ESF
A better integration of the interventions aeound the needs of the individuals with a focus on quantitative and qualitative targets
The need to involve from the beginning NGOs so as to better implement the NAPs
The improvement of the partnership principle towards the NGO sector as regards the transnational dimension.
The key outcome will be the production of a strategic paper aiming at linking the evaluation findings to explore future scenarios for ESF and the social OMC.
8th of September 2009
EAPN, the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) and the European Committee for Social Housing (CECODHAS) sent a common letter to the attention of the Swedish Presidency and to the The Rapporteur at the European Parliament, Lambert Van Nistelrooij to support the European Commission proposal to amend ERDF regulation as regards eligibility of housing interventions for marginalised communitie as a major step forward for improving their housing conditions. Nonethess, they pointed out three demands :
Target really the most marginalised and deprived communities such as Roma, Homeless people;
Strengthen the social infrastructures especially those of the non-for-profit sector to ensure long-term solutions;
Enlarge the scope of the measure to EU 27 Members States and not only to the EU 12 new Member States.
More information can be found be here
On May 30th 2009, The EAPN structural funds working group met in Vienna.
The EAPN Social Inclusion Survey has been finalized. It can be found here.
The EAPN SFWG Internal Briefing on the Barca Report has been finalized. It can be found here.
The structural funds working group met on 6th February 2009. Key issues on the agenda will be the EU recovery plan, transnationality and the 2009 work programme.
In February 2009, EAPN contributed to the European Commission consultation on territorial cohesion (link). The contribution insists in particular on the need to put social cohesion at the centre of the debate.
In January and February 2009, EAPN inputted in the European Parliament and Commission debates around simplification and modification of the funds as a result of the crisis.
11 February 09, Elodie Fazi (EAPN policy officer) took part in the meeting of the Community of Practice on Partnership in Vienna.
On 8th December 08, EAPN organised a joint seminar with the European Disability Forum and CECODHAS (social housing), aiming to review the state of play of the current programming period, from a social inclusion perspective. The seminar put a strong focus on how to mobilise structural funds as part of the EU recovery plan. A short report can be found on the EAPN website. Presentations can be downloaded here.
EAPN published an analysis of the National Reform Programme (Lisbon Strategy) with a specific section on how structural funds contribute to meeting the NRP’s objectives.
On 30-31 October 08, EAPN held a capacity building seminar on structural funds. Click to see the notes.
The Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund are intended to narrow the gaps in economic and social development among the regions and Member States of the European Union. Representing more than one third of EU’s budget, the Funds constitute substantial financial assistance that shapes the long-term development of the recipient countries and regions.
New challenges for 2007-2013 – For the period 2007-2013, cohesion policy will benefit from 35.7% of the total EU budget (347.41 billion euros), and its general framework has undergone major reforms to tackle challenges raised in particular by enlargement. Aiming at a more strategic approach, and a more decentralised management, the new Cohesion Policy has been concentrated on three main objectives, each targeting specific types of regions and Member States:
convergence (81.54% of funds, mostly targeted at regions with a per capita GDP at less than 75 % of the Community average);
regional competitiveness and employment (15.95%);
European territorial cooperation (2.52%).
These objectives are to be met mostly through three funds: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund (Member States whose GNI is lower than 90% of the EU average). New financial instruments have also been created to support innovative approaches and cooperation with the European Investment bank: Jaspers, Jeremie and Jessica.
For the first time, strong coherence between cohesion policy, the Lisbon and Gothenburg strategy is also required: according to the “earmarking” process, at least 60% of the funds (in convergence regions, 75% for competitiveness regions) should be targeted towards Lisbon related fields supporting a “growth and jobs” approach.
What can the funds do to tackle poverty and exclusion? Although primarily known for their contribution to growth through support to physical infrastructures, structural funds have significantly contributed to tackle poverty and exclusion since the creation of the ESF in 1957 and ERDF later on. This was achieved by supporting a wide range of projects more or less directly employment-related, ranging from community support to formal, but also non formal education and training, support for access to services....
The process: where are we now? The 2007-2013 process of adopting national and regional frameworks is marked by a strong degree of decentralisation. The Funds’ budget and the rules for its use (regulations) are decided by the Council and the European Parliament on the basis of a proposal from the European Commission. These are completed by a more strategic document, the Community Strategic Guidelines, in charge of ensuring coherence with the general objectives of the Union. On this basis, each Member State has to sumbit a National Strategic Reference Framework, oulining broad priorities, to be negotiatied and validated by the European Commission within three months upon reception.
Timeline: Member States’ annual report on implementation of the funds (to be sent by June each Year)
Debate on future of structural funds: ongoing Responsible for the Structural Funds process: National level: National Ministries (mainly, Finance Ministry; but also Social Affairs, Employment, Environment may be involved, to a lesser extent). In decentralised Member States, regional authorities may have a relevant role in the process.
European Parliament: Regional Development Committee
Commission: DG REGIO, DG EMPL., Employment and Social Affairs Committee. Contacts to the relevant EC officials are provided in the following documents:
Contact to ESF desk officers (available from the secretariat)
Background resources and documents Website of the European Social Fund
Compilation of quotations from structural funds key documents, relating to social inclusion- (EAPN internal document)
Structural funds regulations
Division of resources by Member State
Fact sheets by country
EAPN key positions and past action
Making a difference to tackle exclusion - Since the 90’, EAPN has been involved in advocating the European institutions to promote a legal framework for the Structural Fund policy which promotes the fight against poverty and social exclusion. It has also worked closely with National Networks and member organisations to enhance a stronger NGO involvement in the Structural Fund process both at national and European levels, and to provide timely information for a better access of NGOs to all stages of Structural Funds.
Challenges for 2007-2013 - EAPN is rather satisfied with the 2007-2013 structural funds legislative framework, which has picked up some of our amendments to strengthen the social dimension of the Funds and the principle of partnership with civil society. However, the regulations represent only a first step and it is crucial to ensure their spirit is applied throughout all the process, from design to planning and monitoring. EAPN will thus continue claiming for the following concerns to be taken into account:
Building upon the strengthened partnership principle - For the first time, Article 11 of the Structural Funds regulation explicitly recognizes the principle of partnership with civil society organisations, which “shall cover the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of operational programmes”. Implementing partnership across the whole SF process is an obligation upon Member States, but the quality partnership takes various faces across the EU.
Lisbon “earmarking” and approaches to social inclusion - The new Cohesion Policy for 2007-2013 restates the importance of the social inclusion dimension in the Structural Funds. However, in line with the renewed Lisbon Agenda, the emphasis on jobs, competitiveness and growth hinders a rather holistic approach to socio-economic development which takes seriously into account the root causes of poverty in Europe.
Providing the right framework for NGOs to access the funds- To ensure that the funds deliver on tackling poverty, it is crucial to enable access of those organisations engaged with the most excluded, and to provide tailored mechanisms. Key tools for NGOs to further engage in the SF process, Global Grants and Technical Assistance are acknowledged in the regulations but provided by only a minority of Member States.
Mainstreaming of EQUAL - One of the success stories of the last round of the structural funds was the Community Initiative Programme (CIP) EQUAL, which operated on the basis of social inclusion, innovation, transnationality, empowerment and the bottom-up approach, with over 2,000 projects, mainly for NGOs. There will be no CIPs in the new round, but the Community Strategic Guidelines expressly required that these principles be mainstreamed in the new round (namely innovation, transnationality, partnership and gender), as well as of the types of action it supported..
Building on the potential of new programmes and financial schemes - Within or along with ERDF and ESF, a number of programmes and funding mechanisms can have an impact on the fight against poverty, and it is crucial to ensure this potential is not lost. This concerns in particular URBACT II, which aims "to improve the effectiveness of sustainable integrated urban development policies in Europe with a view to implementing the Lisbon and Göteborg strategies", and the new Joint European Resources for Micro to medium Enterprises, Jeremie, which should promote increased access to finance for the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, partly inspired from the local social capital initiative run by the Commission in 2001.
EAPN key references All EAPN documents, including EAPN’s response to the SF Regulations, the Community Strategic Guidelines and the Communication on Cohesion Policy and Cities can be accessed on the EAPN website www.eapn.eu.
We invite you to look in particular at the new specific public and members’ only (password, 1515), pages on structural funds.
7. SERVICES OF GENERAL INTEREST /SOCIAL SERVICES
(Please note that this section will be reshuffled for the next issue of the Policy Brief). Contact person in the Secretariat: Vincent Caron + 32 2 226 58 54 email@example.com
EAPN group in charge: Social Inclusion Working Group
It is up to you! What you can do
Third Energy Package: Member States will have to implement the legislatives acts set put in this package and especially the directive concerning common Rules for the internal market in electricity which imposes some legal requirements to national governments about energy poverty (see details below). It’s now time for you to start lobbying your government to get a national framework on energy poverty which will fully protect the rights of people experiencing poverty.
For information - Latest policy developments Social Services
7th September 2009, the 51 European Committee for Standardization Workshop had a meeting whose aim was to achieve an agreement on a Common Quality Framework Draft for SSGI. During the implementation of the PROMETEUS project, the Common Quality Framework will be tested to check the accuracy and feability of this CQF Draft. Depending on the results of the implementation phase, a final agreement on the CQF could be reached on October 2010.
On the 8th of June 2009, the EPSCO Meeting was dedicated to Social services as a tool for active inclusion, strengthening social cohesion and an area for job opportunities. In the context of the economic and social crisis, the need of social services is all the more crucial to mitigate its social impacts. But, there is no legally binding proposal. The proposals are the following :
A voluntary Quality Framework for social services which aims at providing guidance on methodology to set up, monitor and evaluate quality standards for social services, which is to be developed within the Social Protection Committee with the support of the Commission
Exchange of good practices among the Member States as regards access to sustainable and high quality social services.
Encouragement of the use of existing EU tools (European Commission’s interactive information service for the application of Community rules in the field of SSGI.
The Czech Presidency organised a conference on Social Services of General Interest on 22-23 April. Please click here to see the intervention of Ludo Horemans, EAPN president.
In December 2008, the Social Protection Committee adopted Operational Conclusion on the applicability of Community rules to SSGIs. They insist on the necessity to further disseminate information to increase legal certainty and identify three themes which should be subject to further analysis: the cooperation between public authorities, the role of non-profit providers, public procurement procedures and alternatives to these procedures.
A Social Protection Committee working group has been set up to work on SSGI and in particular the development of Quality Principles.
Access to Social Service is also one of the key pillars of the Commission’s Active Inclusion approach (see specific section in the policy brief).
The French Presidency held the 2nd Forum on Social Services in Paris on the 28th and 29th October 2008. EAPN participated as a speaker. More information can be found here.
On the 3rd of July 2008, as part of the renewed “Social Agenda” package, the Commission published the "First biennial report on the situation of social services of general interest in the EU" (see MEMO/08/465). The report contains an analysis of the role and situation of social services of general interest in Europe as well as the challenges faced.
20th of October
The Commission has published a Communication “Solidarity in Health: Reducing health inequalities in the EU”. The European Commission doesn’t propose any legislation but identifies action for supporting Member States to tackle health inequalities by improving knowledge on health inequalities, better monitoring and data collection, more assessment of how EU policies can tackle health inequalities and work with countries, regions and stakeholders.
This communication is a welcome step for social inclusion NGOs because:
1) The socio-economic factors such as living conditions, education, occupation and income are identified as worsening health inequalities. So, the Commission proposes a serie of action targeted for meeting the needs of vulnerable groups (people in poverty, disadvantagesd migrant and ethnic groups, people with disabilities, elderly people or children living in poverty.
Awareness raising initiatives and actions to improve access and appropriateness of health services, health promotion and preventive care for migrants and ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups through the identification and exchange of good practice supported by the health and other programmes
Ensure that the reduction of health inequalities is fully addressed in future initiatives on health ageing
A report on the use of Community instruments and policies for Roma inclusion including a section on health inequalities will be prepared for the 2010 Roma Summit
Examine how the Fundamental Rigth Agency could collect information on the extent to which vulnerable groups may suffer from health inequalities in the EU, particularly in terms of access to adequate health care, social and housing assistance
Carry out activities on health inequalities as part of the European Year for combating Poverty and Social Exclusion 2010.
2) A better coordination between the Cohesion Policy and health issues
Achieve a better alignment of the strategic documents under EU Cohesion Policy with the priorities identified in the social OMC;
The role of the cohesion policy : better supporting Member States to make use of EU Cohesion Policy and Structural Funds to support activities to address factors contributing to health inequalities
If the link with the economic crisis is mentioned at the beginning the Commission doesn’t make the link with the trend of liberalization of some types of health services and the impacts on vulnerable groups of people (accessibility, affordability…)
The stakeholders are mentioned but they are not targeted as key actors to be supported even if they have a big role as interface with the health sector.
The Commission launched in February 2009 consultation on health inequalities. It will be followed by a Communication at the end of 2009 (after consultation of the SPC), which should propose a multi-fold approach but no specific legislation (to be defined: dialogue through an OMC, mainstreaming in key policies, health inequalities targets…). EAPN contributed to the Social Platform’s response.
In December 2008, the Commission launched a consultation on mobility of workforce in the health sector, under the form of a Green Paper. The aim is to review how to respond to common challenges such as mobility, recognition of qualifications and workforce shortage in some countries.
A proposal for a Directive on the Application of Patients’ rights in Cross-Border Healthcare was published on the 3rd July 2008 as part of the social agenda package. Member states are already highlighting the unworkeabilitly of the current proposals, in clarifying patient's rights, member states responsibilities and dealing with subsidiarity, during a stakeholder debate held in the Parliament on July 15th. MEPs also highlighted that it would lead to a confirmation of 2-tier Europe with different services for the poor and the wealthy as to get the cross-border services you need to pay up front. For more information see EURACTIV summary. See also EAPN briefing on the Renewed Social Policy Agenda.
Services of General Interest
The launching of the internal procedure leading to the establishment of an EP inter-group on SGIs and SSGIs. With the Lisbon Treaty (art. 16 TEC), ‘The European Parliament and the Council, acting by means of regulations in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish these principles and set these conditions without prejudice to the competence of Member States, in compliance with the Treaties, to provide, to commission and to fund such services”
The protocol n°26 precises the notion of common values recognized to SGIs by defining common principles and a community framework of governance of public services based on the subsidiarity principle.
The access to public services for citizens is set as a fundamental Right of the EU (art.36 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights), that implies that it has the same legal value as the treaty itself.
So, thanks to the Lisbon treaty, this democratic step forward is translated by a new legislative competence of the European Parliament in codecision with the Council.
Voting of the political groups at mi-November 2009
Final decision of the Conference of the Presidents on the 10th December 2009.
Hope from the new Protocol/Lisbon Treaty - The main hope for a way forward on SGI is currently focussed on the implications of the new Protocol 26 of the new Lisbon Treaty (See background information). Some actors have started campaigning on the issue: ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation) in particular is calling for: immediate implementation of the new treaty (once ratification is complete), the setting up of a Council working party to deal with transposition and for the EP to make a full report of the consequences. A further proposal by ETUC is the introduction of a social clause which would have as its objective the clarification of the relationship between the internal market and fundamental social rights, which should be introduced in all single market legislation
The independent expert report on the Horizontal Evaluation of Network Industries highlighted some key failings in the current procedure – particularly the lack of independent assessment, and the limited social data and evaluation, which insufficiently dealt with consumers and users doubts about the success of liberalisation of the market in producing better conditions lower prices. The European Parliament has called for a report to be made in 2007 to assess the impact of liberalisation on SGI. For 2009, the current limited economic evaluation, led by DG ECFIN, will continue.
On 25June 2009, the Council unanimously adopted the package of legislative measures concerning the internal energy market, approving all the European Parliament’s second reading amendments (see just below).
Consequently the procedure at the EU level is ended.
A summary of the procedure can be found here.
The directive concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity can be found here.
The Member States will have 18 months to transpose it into their national legislation.
On 22 April 2009, the European Parliament adopted its resolution on the Internal Market in Electricity, tabled in second reading by Rapporteur Eluned Morgan (PES). The text recognizes energy poverty as a “growing problem in the Community”, calls on Member States to develop “national action plans or other appropriate frameworks to tackle energy poverty”, “ensure the necessary supply for vulnerable customers”, develop integrated approaches (in particular through social policy and energy efficiency measure). It also encourages Member States to define vulnerable customers and prohibit disconnection in critical times. However it represents a compromise with the Council, and as such appears weaker that the previous version adopted by the Parliament last year (tabled in first reading). References to a common definition of energy poverty and pricing measures were taken out. The amended proposal now has to be formally adopted by the Council, but few changes are expected at this stage. A summary of the procedure can be found here.
The European Parliament Resolution on a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers was adopted in June 2008. It stresses the need for a more binding nature to enforce customer’s rights and to turn the Charter into a legislative document linked to the Directives on Energy. It further calls for better use of public service obligations to support vulnerable customers including a social default tariff and for all Member States to set up a National Energy Action Plan addressing Energy Poverty.
Declaration on Energy Poverty. Several MEPs have proposed a parliamentary declaration on energy poverty, calling on the Commission and member states to take urgent action on the proposals in the Energy Package. Despite strong lobbying by EAPN members and other NGO’s, only 160 signatures were gained. So the Declaration fell end of 2008.
On the 15th of June, the European Commission launched a consultation on Responsible Lending and Borrowing in the EU . You can found the consultation document here. The consultation will last until 31 August 2009. This consultation follows the one recently closed about "Financial Inclusion: Ensuring access to a basic bank account"). It aims at restoring consumer confidence in the banking institutions, which has been very affected by the financial crisis. Points of interest in this Consultation might be as follows:
The emphasis on on-line tools as a way of educating, guiding and advising consumers e.g in the paragraphs on "risk guidance" and "responsible borrowing" .
The question of non-binding, voluntary approaches versus a more enforceable, regulatory EU-wide approach e.g on the topics "pre-contractual information", "advice standards" "framework for intermediaries in the EU", "registration, licensing and supervision of credit intermediaries
The questions of the credit products suitability and of reviewing creditworthiness assessment procedures are also addressed.
After that, the Commission will organize a hearing on Responsible Lending on 3 September 2009 to discuss with stakeholders on the most appropriate policy responses. The European Commission will decide afterwards the next steps.
EAPN activities Services (general)
On 23 April 2009, Ludo Horemans, EAPN President, contributed to the Czech Presidency conference on Social Services of General Interest. Please click here to see presentation.
On 9th February 2009, EAPN took part in the kick of conference of the CEN workshop on Common Quality Framework for Social Services, part of the EQUASS project
8th October 2009
Ludo Horemans participated in the EPEE EU Conference on fuel poverty organised by EPEE (European Fuel Poverty and Efficiency) Consortium funded by the Energy Intelligent Europe Programme ( http://www.epee2009.eu/index.php?action=programme). Our President took part in the last roundtable on "Networks and Financing action across Europe". In the context of the implementation of the recent third Energy Package (including the setting up of national action plans on fuel poverty), Ludo Horemans highlighted the importance to tackle the growing problem of fuel poverty by an integrated approach embrassing the issues of an adequate minimum income, the high level of energy prices and the promotion of energy efficiency. He also showed that EAPN is very committed at the EU and national levels to contribute to the eradication of this problem so as to improve the living conditions of people experiencing poverty. He finished by making key recommendations to strengthen the rights of vulnerable consumers.
31th August 2009
EAPN together with RFA (Réseau de Financement Alternatif) and ECDN (European Consumer Debt Network) responded to the European Consultation on Responsible borrowing and lending in the EU. This joint response stresses the crucial need to ensure more responsible credit and other adequate financial services for people experiencing poverty, particularly in the context of the current economic crisis.
It focuses on the regulation of credit products - so as to eliminate all unethical products -, access to credit, improvement of creditworthiness assessment obligations and incentives to develop community banks.
More information can be found here.
For more information, please see EAPN Briefing on SGIs, and EAPN explainer on services of general interest
Services of General Interest Services as diverse as healthcare, telecommunication, social services or energy have a key role in ensuring social cohesion. They all have in common to have faced major changes over the last decades, as a result of both EU integration and the so-called “modernization” of welfare states: new relation between providers and users, privatization leading to increasing consumer choice but also in some cases higher prices for the most basic services.
Representing 75% of EU jobs and 65% of GDP in the EU, and having a strong growth potential, they have also been at the centre of the revised Lisbon Strategy. This led to the adoption of the much debated Services Directive1 in 2006, which aims at “eliminating obstacles to trade in services, thus allowing the development of cross-border operations”.
However the EU has recognized that many services are of important public or “general interest”, and require specific safeguards to ensure that their public service obligations are met – in particular access, continuity, affordability, and quality. A key debate has therefore been to identify which services should be “protected” from EU internal market rules, how this should be done, and how to approach those sectors that are the most essential to social cohesion.
Following the publication of the White paper on services of general interest in May 2004, the Commission proposed a more systematic approach. The Lisbon Treaty went some way towards clarifying the situation, by entailing a new protocol on SGIs, which emphasizes the EU shared values with regard to SGIs and gives what can be seen as a definition of public service obligation. A reworded article 16 (now article 14) also stresses the joint responsibility of the EU its Member States and establishes a new legal basis for the EU to take further legal action.
Yet the European Commission made it clear in a 2007 Communication that it did not intend to push for horizontal legislative framework and would keep moving on the line of sector specific legislation (or quality framework in the case of on social services). It remains to be seen how other actors (e.g. Parliament) would make political use of the new legal basis in case the Treaty is ratified.
Social services Social Services of General Interest have been only partly taken out of the scope of the Service Directive, which left some questions opened on the applicability of internal market rules in the sector. The 2007 Commission Communication on SGIs and SSGIs went someway towards giving a definition of the specificity of social services and stressed the need to ensure the promotion of quality “in a more systematic manner”, raising the difficulties of applying Community rules – particularly public procurement and state aid. Rather than proposing new sector specific legislation, the Commission proposed:
- To clarify legal uncertainties on the applicability of internal market rules through a "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) documents and interactive information service (IIS) operational since January 2008
- To boost the quality of SSGIs through the definition of a voluntary EU Quality Framework.
For more information on SGIs and specific areas (health, financial inclusion, energy), please see EAPN briefing on SGIs (April 2009).
Energy poverty Following EU pressure to rapidly complete the internal market in Energy, the sector faced major changes over the last years: opening up markets to private actors, supposedly leading to increasing consumer choice. Yet it was also accompanied by a major increase in prices, which led to a more and more Europeans being considered as energy poor. The (still limited) steps taken to protect the “most vulnerable consumers” and take increasingly account of energy poverty thus remain subject to heated discussions.
- In particular, the Commission (DG TREN) published a communication – Towards a Charter on Energy consumers rights followed by a consultation which ended in September 2007.
- The revision of the third legislative package has been discussed since 2007, which led to a better – but still limited – acknowledgement of energy poverty.
Responsible for: National Level: National Ministries with responsibilities for economic affairs and enterprise
EU Level: Directive on Services: DG Internal Market and Services, Directorate E, Secretariat General in the EU Commission
Social Services – DG Employment, Unit E/4.
Concetta Cultrera, Unit E/4, Head of sector – social services of general interest.
Tel: + 32 2 229 94814
Michele Calandrino (Active Inclusion, quality principles for social SGI) – Unit E2
Tel: +32 2 2954179
DG Internal Market: Cécile Helmryd (social SGI and internal market rules. Unit E1. Tel +(32) 2 2951742. E-mail: Cecile.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amaryllis Vervhoeven (Internal Market review; SGI in internal market. Unit B1.
Tel: +32 2 2998356
DG Sanco (Health and Consumer Protection)
Véronique Arnault, Head of Unit B1, Policy analysis and development. Relations with consumer organisations, international relations.
Tel: + 32 2 2990006
Background resources and documents Internal Market site: Commission Documents on the Services Directive
Parliament Documents: related to the Services Directive
Documents related to the Communication on Social Services of General Interest site
DG TREN site: Documents related to Energy Directive and the Energy Charter are available on the
EAPN key positions and past action
EAPN’s work on services focuses on the following priorities:
The refusal of the EU to establish a strong horizontal framework on all Services of General Interest as a balance to the liberalization of the market through the Services Directive and other sectoral initiatives. The unwillingness to affirm the overarching priority of a social Europe = guaranteeing the implementation of universal services obligations (accessible, affordable, quality services) and ensuring their priority over and above the interests of the market.
The limited exclusion of social services from the Services Directive, the separation of health services from social services, with its own legal process and and the development in 2008 of a proposal for a health directive on cross-border services.
The lack of progress on developing a specific EU framework for social services.
The reticence of the Commission to objectively assess the impact of liberalization and privatization on users and particularly on the poor. A good example of this is to look at what has really happened to energy prices, access, continuity and quality of supply with liberalization based on the real experiences of the poor.
Above all, the lack of active stakeholder involvement in the debate and the design of policy proposals, the horizontal evaluation of Services of General Interest, or impact assessment procedures, particularly of the people most affected – people experiencing poverty.
EAPN has contributed to the work of the Social Platform to develop a Social NGO contribution to key debates around SGIs and SSGIs. From 2007 to 2008, EAPN has set up an adhoc Group on Services, which aimed to help EAPN engage better with the complex field of SGI and SSGI and to actively develop briefings and position papers to highlight EAPN concerns. The work on services has now been mainstreamed and will be followed up within the Social Inclusion Working Group. Some key actions:
Together with the Social Platform, EAPN campaigned against the Services Directive on three key areas: get Services of General Interest excluded from the Directive, get the specificity of social and health services recognized and excluded, get the “country of origin” principle abolished, which could have led to social dumping.
EAPN has been actively involved with the Social Platform in other debates on the future of SGIs in the European Union, advocating for a strong framework and acknowledgement of the Universal Service Obligation.
SGIs were a strong focus of the 7th People Experiencing Poverty Meeting (2008)
EAPN Published a glossary on services of general interest and an explainer on the Service Directive
EAPN has responded to the Consultation on the Charter for Energy Consumer’s Rights and has been active in lobbying around the revision of the Energy Package.