Author: escr_author (Page 2 of 6)

The European Pillar of Social Rights: the EU Tool to Leave No One Behind?

“In times of deep change – whether in life or in politics – it is only natural to come back to what defines you and to what holds you together.” These were the words of
President Juncker on the occasion of the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Right, 2017 November 2017.

Facing unprecedented challenges globally and at home, there cannot be a better time for the European Union to demonstrate that it is a Union designed for all its citizens, leaving no one behind. This is why ATD Europe and the European Economic and Social Council (EESC) came together to question: Will the EU Pillar of Social Rights be the key framework of a renewed commitment of the EU to combat and stop poverty?

This question will be discussed at the EESC on Tuesday 26th June 2018. Invitation here!

A discussion panel organised in Brussels at the Bringing together their scientific, political and activist experiences, and also different socio-cultural backgrounds, the panelists will try to answer the question and explain how genuinely fighting poverty could help the European Union win back the hearts of its citizens.

EAPN Ireland supports the campaign for the inclusion of socio-economic status as an additional ground for discrimination

This post follows previous posts regarding the campaign aiming at the recognition of the “socio-economic ground for discrimination”. See  and also


Following a discussion and a resolution adopted by its members, the European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland is calling on the Irish government to show its full and immediate support for the inclusion of socio-economic status as an additional ground for discrimination under current Irish equality legislation.  This move would align Irish law with the majority of jurisdictions in the EU, ensuring Ireland remains at the forefront of protecting the rights of its citizens to freely access services and seek work, unburdened by discriminatory attitudes, behaviors, and prejudices.

An overview of equality legislation shows that legislation in 20 of the 35 European countries provide protection against discrimination on a ground related to socio-economic status. There is also a significant move in other European countries towards extending the mandate of equality bodies to cover socio-economic status grounds.

The recognition of the socio-economic ground ensures that those who have experienced discrimination and exclusion based on their housing status, address, income level, and family background, have necessary redress under equality legislation.

In Ireland, the Central Statistics Office revealed that 29.6% of those reporting discrimination have stated it was on grounds other that those covered in the current legislation, with strong indication that “other grounds” relate to income status and location or address. Unfortunately the extensive research being called for by the government in order to establish levels and locations of discrimination, as well as to further explore definitions, seems to ignore the experiences, evidence and learning already in place around equality legislation in Ireland and within other European

The current government concerns around the inclusion of socio- economic status on the basis of impact are unfounded. Socio-economic status will not present a burden greater than existing grounds already operating within current equality legislation. EAPN Ireland believes the move to include socio-economic status as grounds for discrimination would not bring Ireland beyond the point of necessity or create unintended consequences.

EAPN Ireland Press Release from 18th June 2018

The ESC Rights Initiative will mark UDHR70!

#UDHR70 – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Seventy

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a landmark instrument in the history of human rights. Many of its articles cover Economic, Social and Cultural Rights! In the coming weeks and months, the Irish ESC Rights Initiative will join many stakeholders to celebrate the 70 years of the UDHR!

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.

The first way for us to celebrate #UDHR70 will be to contribute to the conference entitled “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Seventy; A Review of Successes and Challenges” organised by the Maynooth University Department of Law on 21st and 22nd June 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.

Keynote speakers confirmed include:
• Prof Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union
• The Hon Mr Justice John Mac Menamin, Judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland
• Anastasia Crickley, Outgoing Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
• Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
• Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties
• Esther Lynch, Confederal Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation

On Thursday 21st June in the afternoon, Kevin O’Kelly will speak on behalf of the ESC Rights Intiative on the theme: ‘Amending Bunreacht na hÉireann to incorporate human economic, social and cultural rights’!

Draft Programme  available here.

For more information and to register please visit:

New call for a national conversation on the right to housing

The Simon Communities in Ireland, members of the ESC Rights Initiative, are welcomed the UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, to Ireland on the 11th June 2018.

Ms. Farha was the keynote speaker at a Simon Communities event, ‘Making the Case for a Right to Housing, which took place in Dublin. Other speakers included Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Senator Colette Kelleher and Niamh Randall of the Simon Communities.

As our ESC Rights Initiative continue to remind, the Constitutional Convention recommended in February 2015 the inclusion of legally enforceable socio-economic rights in the Constitution including the right to housing.

In 2017 the Right to Housing Bill sought to insert a right to housing into the Constitution by amendment to Article 43. The Bill was defeated in the Dáil but referred for further consideration to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform. With the Simon Communities we call on this Committee to consider the provisions of this bill urgently making recommendation to Government.

The Simon Communities hope their new paper will contribute to the ongoing conversation on the possible routes to deliver greater protections and obligations with regard to housing and homelessness in Ireland. Across multiple jurisdictions, the right to housing has been delivered through both constitutional and statutory reform involving institutional and non-judicial mechanisms.

‘It is time for a national conversation on the right to housing in Ireland’, said Niamh Randall of the Simon Communities. ‘With record numbers trapped in emergency accommodation, on the social housing waiting lists and experiencing ‘hidden homelessness’, it is clear the current approach to housing is not working. A right to housing is not about the State ensuring home ownership for all. This is an unrealistic expectation and a soundbite often used by those who wish to undermine progress on this issue. A right to housing would provide a ‘floor’ in respect of access to adequate housing for all, obliging the state to reasonably protect and fulfil that right. For example, where the gap between Housing Assistance Payments and market rents are so great that far too many people cannot afford to rent a home, the right to housing would allow this to be constitutionally challenged. Eighty-one countries around the world have a constitutionally protected right to housing.

There are almost 10,000 people stuck in emergency accommodation while many more are ‘hidden homeless’ with no choice but to share with family and friends. These 10,000 people are the visible and statistical embodiment of this broken system, but represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of housing instability and insecurity. They are people trying to live their lives in very difficult circumstances characterised by stress, trauma and uncertainty. We need to transition from emergency-led responses to a statutory homelessness preventative model underpinned by State obligations to respect, protect and fulfil citizen’s basic right to adequate housing.’ 

Media coverage of the event:

UN backs calls to make housing a constitutional right in Ireland – The Irish Times

Simon Communities event hears call for housing to be a constitutional right in Ireland – The Irish Examiner







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:

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 )

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


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!


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