Avid watchers of the Brussels Bubble were gripped the last few days by the negotiations on the new EU budget and the recovery plan for Members States on COVID 19. As usual lots of national politics were at play. What came out of these negotiations was a mixed bag. Funding for health, for research, and a just transition to a green economy was slashed. Cohesion funding, where many of our members receive support, was also reduced but not by the same extent as other programmes. However, within the ESF+, the called for 5% allocation to address Child Poverty was rejected which is a real disappointment. Along with many other NGOs and the European Parliament, we raised this issue in the last few days and we will wait to see what the European Parliament decides in its deliberations this week and next.
We know that budget negotiations are tough but we have been disappointed to see political priorities at Member State level trumping intranational concerns about wellbeing and cohesion. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only been an economic shock but a social shock and we are really concerned that we have not yet seen the real social impact of this crisis. Reducing funds now for the very programmes that will support people in employment, in care, in health and wellbeing, as well as researching the causes of inequalities and social phenomena is not really a visionary inclusive approach. We will have to follow this carefully over the coming months.
As we come to the summer holidays for many of us it can be easy to push aside these issues – but the reality of living in poverty and social exclusion, of being poor or having no access to adequate quality social and health care services, of trying to integrate and be included in our societies as a newcomer does not go on holiday. Our members are still working to counter the effects of inequality and injustice and will keep doing so. They do so in difficult circumstances, more difficult than anything we have seen before, but we do it because we believe that we are all equal, all entitled to care and support, all created in the same image and with the same value. The fight for social justice never goes on holiday – and will continue despite the obstacles that come in our way. Thank you to the community of diaconia who remain committed to our vision and beliefs.
Have a good weekend and a good summer wherever you are and whatever you will do.