ICSW Europe Social Platform – Work Programme 2016

from European Newsletter - Winter 2016

2016 is the year that the European Union needs to prove itself. Following the crises it faced the previous year – the Greek debt and the situation of migrants and refugees to name just two – it is of utmost importance that the European institutions and Member States stick fast to European values of human rights, human dignity and solidarity. We believe that promoting a social agenda that brings a social dimension to all EU policies is vital to achieving this.

Against a backdrop of increasing inequalities, poverty and unemployment, Social Platform aims to ensure that the European Union keeps the goals enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty at the forefront of all its policies, not least its macroeconomic governance mechanisms. These include article 3 stating the EU’s objective to strive to promote the wellbeing of the Union’s peoples, and article 9 – called the social clausestating that “in defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health”. To engage with the European Union representatives, we refer to article 11 of the treaty where “the institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society”.

Our 48 members and their members work daily to tackle the consequences of the high levels of poverty, social exclusion and inequalities that are still rife in our societies. So far instruments such as the European Semester and EU 2020 Strategy have failed to address the current situation. If anything they have worsened it by encouraging the pursuit of austerity by member states. The recently adopted UN Sustainable Development Agenda provides a new comprehensive framework for sustainable and social development that will be implemented and monitored at European and national levels.

Despite the fact that the Member States that best resisted the economic crisis were those with strong social policies, the EU still systematically prioritises the economy above all else – even if it is detrimental to the social rights of people in Europe. As such we have seen the development of a jobs and growth agenda disregarding the quality of those jobs; an Investment Plan that foresees investment in social infrastructures, social and solidary economy but which are yet to be used; and an Economic and Monetary Union with – until now – no agreed standards to avoid social divergence between and within EU countries.

SocialPlatform 605x450

Within the framework of our Strategic Orientation 2014-2020 and building upon our work so far, we will rely on and support our members’ activities around the following four pillars of priorities for our work during 2016, to bring about real change for people in Europe:

  1. Social standards, including minimum income, minimum wage, unemployment benefits and access to quality services;
  2. Investment in services of general interest, promoting the “social investment” approach and unlocking the sector’s job creation potential;
  3. Human Rights First: ensuring inclusion and equal opportunities for people in the EU;
  4. Civil dialogue, to ensure that rights are respected and civil society organisations are represented at the European decisionmaking level.

By advocating for a stronger social Europe through these four pillars we will draw attention to the direct impact of European and related national policies on people (social standards), the role of financial investment in preventing social emergencies (investment in services) and the need to have a strategic approach to human rights across the Union (human rights). Civil dialogue is the vehicle for ensuring that the voices and needs of people in Europe are heard.

Our activities in 2016 will be carried out with our members at the heart of all activities, and will complement the work being conducted by their own organisations. By bringing together the expertise, knowledge and skills of our broad spectrum of members we will bring a real added value when advocating for the policies and practices that people in Europe need. Our common belief is that all people in Europe will benefit from a strong Social Europe – and we will campaign towards this end in 2016.

ICSW Europe as a member of Social Platform sees its role in access to services and Monitoring implementation of SDGs as a framework of social standards in the objective “Building SP's case for support for social standards that promote social convergence” and “Implementing SP's advocacy strategy to promote social standards”.

In “Building SP's case for support for social investment in services, showing how such investment ensures accessibility, affordability, quality and contributes to inclusive growth” ICSW Europe role is in access to employment for people further away from the labour market. ICSW Europe will also cooperate with SP on “Implementing SP's advocacy strategy to promote investment in services, including social investment” and “Monitoring and influencing EU developments on social impact investing and financing the social economy/social enterprises, including measuring the social impact”.

(from Social Platform – Work Programme 2016)