Could the “Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived” support a Social Rights based approach?

The 10th “Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD)” Network meeting took place on 24-25 April in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmo, Sweden.

The event focused on ‘FEAD’s contribution to the delivery of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR)’ principles.

10th FEAD Network Meeting

With a mix of panel discussions, group activities and on site project visits, delegates were able to understand the breadth of ESPR, from its core policies to implementation on the ground.

As we already wrote it in previous posts, the European Pillar of Social Rights is a new initiative launched by the European Commission, which aims to introduce new and more effective rights for EU citizens. The concept includes 20 key principles and is based around 3 categories which are key to FEAD’s success in tackling the types of social deprivation found across the EU:

  • Equal opportunities and access to the labour market,
  • Fair working conditions,
  • Social protection and inclusion.

Throughout the two days delegates listened to presentations from the hosting countries Denmark and Sweden, who explained the impact of FEAD and EPSR have on a local and national level. They highlighted that homelessness is a major social issue in both Denmark and Sweden which comes with a range of complex issues that require differentiated activities to address them.

Delegates were then introduced to two Danish and three Swedish projects that specialised in supporting these homeless people, many of whom are EU mobile citizens, Roma and women.

Following this, delegates were invited to take part in an interactive session to explore the way in which FEAD activities can be tailored to address the needs of specific target groups using the EPSR principles.

Project visits

During the second day delegates were given a closer look at some of the projects in action. Delegates were split into three groups. One group was given a bus tour in Malmö, and the remaining 2 groups were able to visit projects across Copenhagen.

The Malmö bus tour provided a closer look at the BETTER HEALTH, PO DROM, FRISK projects that were presented the previous day. The BETTER HEALTH and FRISK projects focus on delivering a range of health initiatives to vulnerable groups and women funded by FEAD.

In Copenhagen, delegates visited Danish projects UDENFOR and Compass, which tackle migrant homelessness and unemployment. The project visits were a valuable way to understand the wider effects of EPSR on the front line delivery of FEAD projects.

Interactive activities

Throughout the meeting, delegates were encouraged to interact with the new FEAD Network Facebook group. The online space aims to connect members, encourage discussion and share the latest policy news.

There was a range of interactive activities for delegates to be a part of including live posting throughout the two days, interactive polls and an exclusive Facebook Live video interview with Marie-Anne Paraskevas.

Join the Facebook group to keep up to date with the FEAD and to view photos from the meeting.

Download the conference report for more details on the 10th FEAD Network Meeting.

Info from: http://ec.europa.eu/social/home.jsp?langId=en

The Agenda 2030 and the European Pillar of Social Rights as overarching single EU framework?

In Brussels, Eurodiaconia, a network of 46 organizations in 32 European countries providing social services and working for social justice, urged the European Commission to bring together the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) under an overarching single framework guiding the EU’s work for the post-2020 period.

The European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) is a framework of 20 principles building upon existing European social rights, which was jointly proclaimed by all three EU Institutions on 17 November 2017.

Two years earlier, the European Commission has committed itself to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 (Agenda 2030) and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

On the occasion of an event in the European Parliament on the 15th May 2018 “Sustainable Development Goals vs European Pillar of Social Rights?” Eurodiaconia presented its research paper onIntegrating and Implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The research paper seeks to assess how the EPSR and SDGs can complement each other and make a real difference in people’s lives through their effective implementation.

The publication is accompanied by a policy recommendation paper, suggesting five steps to integrate the EPSR and SDGs frameworks and their monitoring mechanisms in order to facilitate their effective implementation throughout the EU.

During the meeting, Heather Roy for Eurodiaconia commented that: “It is wrong to assume that there is a division of fields of application between the EPSR and the SDGs along the lines of internal versus external policies. On the contrary, the SDGs aspire to be a global agenda applicable also to the EU’s internal policies. Therefore, when considered together, those two elements have the potential to form a coherent and comprehensive post-2020 strategy for the EU.”

 

Social Welfare Adequate and Accessible for All?

“Social Welfare for All? A Local and European Perspective on Adequacy and Accessibility”

The European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland will be hosting the European Minimum Income Network Bus Tour from May 18th-May 21st. Delegates and volunteers from the European Minimum Income Network Europe are travelling across European by bus, raising awareness and highlighting the importance of social welfare supports, which benefit and are accessed by the poorest in society.

Guaranteed Minimum Income Schemes: Nobody deserves less, everybody benefits!
At the occasion of the Bus Tour a petition is run by the European EMIN. Support ENIM to call for European concrete actions to achieve the progressive realisation of adequate, accessible and enabling Minimum Income Schemes as part of comprehensive social protection systems supported by an EU Framework Directive.

Support the petition here!

As part of this tour, EAPN Ireland will be hosting free seminars in Limerick, Longford and Dublin. The title of the seminars is as follows: “Social Welfare for All?: A Local and European Perspective on Adequacy and Accessibility”

The seminars will include short presentations, representing national and European view points on social welfare supports and input from those who have had personal experience of the social welfare system. There will also be a panel response as well as discussion and debate from the floor, to ensure the Irish perspective, both national and local area, will be adequately represented and reflected as the bus tours around Europe.

The venues and times are as follows:

  • May 18th Limerick– Limerick Library, the Granary, Michael St, Limerick city – 11.30am-13.15pm
  • May 19th Longford– Longford Library, Tesco Carpark, Longford town – 11am-12.30pm
  • May 21st Dublin- The Oak room, Mansion House, Dawson Street, Dublin 2- 2pm-4pm

(Please note: registration for Dublin event essential due to number restrictions, please register at enquiries@eapn.ie )

EU Social Triple A requires political engagement and proper funding

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has used an own-initiative opinion to call for sufficient funding resources to be put in place for implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. Adopted at its plenary session on 19 April 2018, the opinion calls for improvements in the Member States and a robust commitment in terms of budget, investment and current spending to make the Social Pillar a reality.

Following the proclamation of the Social Pillar in autumn 2017, the Committee urges Europe’s leaders to now turn their declaration of intent into a serious commitment and to press ahead with the progressive implementation of the pillar. This requires not just the commitment of the Member States but also the active ownership, responsibility and participation of all EU institutions, regional and local authorities, social partners and other civil society stakeholders – and adequate funding measures to reflect this.

The Key points of the EESC call:

  • The principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights (the “Social Pillar”) and the need for its implementation should constitute one of the guiding lines in the negotiations on the next EU multi-annual financial framework.
  • Making a reality of the Social Pillar will require improvements in Member States and a robust budgetary base, investment and current spending.
  • Spending needs are particularly large in lower-income countries and in countries that suffered income declines in recent years. All face some degree of constraint from EU rules on budgets and debt levels.
  • Scope for more spending can be created within Member States and with the help of various EU-level programmes.
  • Private sector investment can make a contribution in some areas but will not be enough and cannot ensure against exclusion of the socially weakest.
  • More public investment within Member States can be facilitated by reference to a Golden Rule for public investment with a social objective, which would allow more flexibility in budget rules with a view to achieving the aims of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
  • More public investment can also be supported by the use of existing EU instruments, especially the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs), and by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
  • Appropriate taxation policies, including effective fight against tax fraud, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning, should allow Member States and the EU to raise additional means to contribute to the financing of the Social Pillar.
  • The implementation of the Social Pillar requires the active ownership, responsibility and participation of relevant stakeholders at all the different levels: the European institutions, the Member States and regional and local authorities, as well as the social partners and other civil society stakeholders.

“The question of how to fund the implementation of the Social Pillar is a logical consequence of its proclamation,” says Anne Demelenne (Workers’ Group, BE), the rapporteur for the EESC opinion on the subject. “In our view, the key elements for the funding will be more flexibility in EU budgetary rules for public investment, the full use of European Structural Funds and fair taxation.”

The EESC is firmly convinced that adequate social investment will be crucial for ensuring Member States’ ability to accomplish the declared objectives of achieving better and sustainable social protection and enhancing the EU’s economic potential. It believes that scope for appropriate spending could be created within Member States and with the help of EU programmes by redistributing wealth in a way that respects the principles of solidarity, flexibility and responsibility.

Spending needs would be particularly large in lower-income countries and in those that had suffered drops in income in recent years. These countries would have limited potential for additional social investment, also because their spending is often restricted by the Stability and Growth Pact and its provisions regarding Member States’ budget and debt levels.

With this in mind, the Committee urges that existing European instruments be used to support public investment in the Member States. The European Union must, the EESC believes, play an active role in implementing the Social Pillar. The European Structural and Investment Funds (EFIFs) and the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), in particular, could be sources of financial support.

As EESC rapporteur Anne Demelenne argues: “The principles of the Social Pillar and the need for its implementation should constitute one of the guiding lines in the upcoming negotiations on the European Union’s post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework. The EU budget must ensure that real added value is delivered to citizens’ lives. Only in this way will it be possible to regain their trust and support for the European project.” The EESC therefore urges, in line with the European Parliament, that the current 1% ceiling for the EU’s expenditure be increased.

More public investment within Member States could also be facilitated by invoking a Golden Rule for public investment with a social objective related to the pillar’s twenty key principles. This would allow for a more flexible application of EU budget rules to ensure sustainable growth in Europe.

“The revenue loss for Member States and the EU due to aggressive tax planning and tax fraud is significant. Appropriate tax policies should allow for fair taxation, a better combating of tax fraud and thereby raising additional means to contribute to the funding of the Social Pillar,” says Anne Demelenne.

In addition to public national and EU funding, the EESC believes private sector investment could make a contribution in some areas. However, it would not be enough in itself and could not ensure against exclusion of the socially weakest, which is why public funding would be more meaningful for the Social Pillar.

The European Social Charter – How can NGO’s best use the Collective Complaint Procedure?

Don’t miss the FLAC and CAN Seminar: The European Social Charter – How can NGO’s best use the Collective Complaint Procedure?

Date: 10 May 2018
Time: 11.00am – 13.00pm
Venue: FLAC, 85/86 Dorset Street Upper, Dublin 1

The European Social Charter is a Council of Europe treaty that guarantees fundamental social and economic rights. It guarantees a broad range of everyday human rights related to employment, housing, health, education, social protection and welfare.

A monitoring mechanism is built into the Charter whereby States Parties are required to submit national reports. Additionally approved bodies (usually INGOs or trade unions) can lodge a ‘collective complaint’ against a State Party alleging non-compliance with the rights protected by the Charter. Introduced at a later stage the aim of the collective complaints procedure was to increase the effectiveness, speed and impact of the implementation of the Charter by States Parties.

The objective of the seminar will be to increase knowledge and understanding of the collective complaints procedure and its’ utilisation by national organisations. It will unpack and explore findings of violations by Ireland through the use of this procedure. Focus will be placed on the effectiveness of the Charter to advance social and economic rights. We will hear from organisations and activists who have experience with the process and some of the challenges and implementation of decisions.

The seminar will be chaired by Cecilia Forrestal of Community Action Network with contributions from:

  • Ms Debbie Mulhall – Community Activist and representative of Rialto Rights in Action Group
  • Susan Fay, Solicitor with the Legal Aid Board
  • Bridgie Casey, Accommodation Officer ITM
  • Ms Niamh Casey, Council of Europe, Strasbourg

The seminar will be interactive, with time for contributions from attendees and questions and answers.

To register for the event, please email Stephen Bourke at Stephen.Bourke@flac.ie.

 

Housing is a right: national demonstration on April 7th

Members of the ESC Rights Initiative will march with many activists, NGOs, political parties and numerous citizens on April 7th in Dublin. One of the main shared demand from the participants will be the introduction of the right to housing in the Irish Constitution.

Mobilisation poster to download here!

 

Socio-Economic Status: a serious gap in Ireland’s equality legislation

On 29th March 2018, the ESC Rights initiative submitted a paper entitled: “Socio-Economic Status: a serious gap in Ireland’s equality legislation” to the Mr Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD (Chair) and the members of the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality.

The ESCRI raised concerns about the fact that in equality legislation there is no ground dealing with issues of inequality and discrimination arising from a person’s socioeconomic status. ESCRI strongly believes that this gap must be addressed as a matter of priority and is calling for the Equality (Miscellaneous
Provisions) Bill 2017
to be enacted as a matter of urgency.

Read the full Socio-Economic Status ESC Rights Submission!

See also http://escr-irl.org/?p=392

‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Seventy: a Review of Successes and Challenges’ – Maynooth University Department of Law call for papers

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
at Seventy;
A Review of Successes and Challenges”

June 21st and 22nd 2018

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a landmark instrument in the history of human rights.

The Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations, and sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. It has significantly influenced the development of human rights law and policy, internationally, regionally and domestically.

Maynooth University’s Department of Law is now accepting submissions from academics, students and practitioners to submit an abstract (300 words approx.) on any area related to the protection of human rights since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for a conference entitled “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Seventy; A Review of Successes and Challenges” which will be held  June 21st and 22nd 2018.

This conference will include discussions by keynote speakers, in addition to a number of papers focusing on different aspects of human rights protection since the adoption of the UDHR, submitted in response to a Call for Papers.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: April 29th 2018.
Submit abstracts to: udhrat70@gmail.com

All presenters will be required to register for the Conference. Registration is open until June 12th 2018. The Conference Fee is €40.

Please click  Call for Papers  for a full list of confirmed keynote speakers and list of paper topics.

In 2018, Dublin will also mark the 10th anniversary of the unveiling of the Human Rights and Poverty Stone. More details here: http://17october.ie/stone2018/

The Right to Housing in Comparative Perspective

The Mercy Law Resource Centre, one of the ESC Rights Initiative members,  launched its Second Right to Housing Report: The Right to Housing in Comparative Perspective

The report will be formally launched by Dr Carol Coulter,Director of the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP), honorary Adjunct Professor in the School of Law, NUI Galway.Professor Paddy Gray, Emeritus Professor at the University of Ulster, will give an address on best practice in relation to the provision  of emergency accommodation in the UK.

Through considering the legal systems of Finland, Scotland, France and  South Africa, “The Right to Housing in Comparative Perspective” engages with well-ventilated arguments in Irish political discourse over legal protection of the right to housing. In doing so, MLRC seeks to offer a comparative perspective on the principled and practical concerns raised by proponents and opponents of a justiciable right to housing.

The comparative analysis highlights that there are a wide variety of structural and institutional means by which the right can be guaranteed: there is no ‘one size fits all’ model. The variety of institutional means available to vindicate the right to housing demonstrates that concerns frequently expressed against economic and social rights – particularly separation of powers concerns – can be addressed.

The simple fact is that guaranteeing the right to housing does not necessarily equate to a significantly increased constitutional role for the judiciary.

In terms of the efficacy of legal protection, the MLRC analysis suggests that a legally enforceable right to housing- while not a panacea- provides a valuable floor of protection. However, the experience of all the jurisdictions considered in this report also highlights that the effectiveness of the right to housing is heavily contingent on the existence of sufficient and enduring political will to vindicate such rights through difficult budgetary, policy, and legislative choices.

Poverty and Discrimination: Two sides of the same coin?

On the 22nd March 2018, Equinet – the European Network of Equality Bodies and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission hosted the conference Poverty and discrimination: two sides of the same coin in Dublin.

Joined by keynote speaker David Stanton T.D., Irish Minister of State for Justice, experts representing the UN OHCHR, European Fundamental Rights Agency, European Committee of Social Rights, Eurofound, as well as national governmental and non-governmental organizations and equality bodies, discussed what can be done at EU and national levels to break the vicious cycle of poverty and social exclusion and make equality a reality for all in Europe. The conference aimed to:
• Review the mutually reinforcing links between poverty and discrimination
• Take stock of recent initiatives introducing socio-economic status as a discrimination ground
• Explore the manner in which grounds such as race and gender intersect with poverty to result in aggravated forms of social exclusion
• Discuss what can be done at EU and national levels to break the vicious cycle of social exclusion

Combating poverty is a key undertaking of the European Union. This is reflected in the European Pillar of Social Rights, and Europe 2020, the EU’s ten-year jobs and growth strategy.

And crucially, one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations to which the European Union and all Member States committed is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.

According to Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility: “Too many people in Europe cannot develop their full potential due to the vicious cycle between poverty and discrimination. The European Pillar of Social Rights guides our actions in combating poverty and social exclusion and promoting equal opportunities. Now that the Pillar has been endorsed by all Member States, concerted action at all levels of responsibility will be necessary to ensure that everyone can live a life in dignity.

As two closely linked and mutually reinforcing types of injustice, poverty and discrimination reflect different aspects of inequality. Inequality of resources and inequality of recognition both create barriers to participation in society and in the economy. “Poverty and discrimination, unfortunately, work together. That is why the fight against poverty and the fight for equality must go hand in hand,“ stressed Tena Šimonović Einwalter, Chair of the Equinet Executive Board and Deputy Ombudswoman of Croatia.

Despite this link, the policy responses to poverty and to discrimination continue to be fragmented and characterised by different strategies and approaches.

National equality bodies have a particular contribution by infusing economic and social rights with an ambition for equality. Equality bodies that have a mandate to challenge discrimination and inequalities on the ground of socio-economic status are particularly well placed to make this contribution.

Emily Logan Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) stated: “Understanding poverty is complex, it is multi-dimensional and as today’s discussions explore, its direct link to discrimination is tangible, our shared destination is to enable a society where we see equality in practice – where people can reach their full potential, in all aspects of their lives.

Here are some quotes from the various speakers attending the Conference:

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