As 2022 is coming to an end, Eurodiaconia hosted a webinar for members on the Autumn Package and the European Semester process. The webinar was part of the pilot of our Social Europe Academy, and its main aim was to present our first impressions of the documents of the Autumn Package to provide a better understanding of their content, which are the next steps and what members can do to get engaged at national level to influence the European Semester.
In September, we released our report on the State of the Social European Union, and based on our analysis, we sent a letter to the European Commission to highlight Eurodiaconia’s priorities for the next cycle: stronger and crisis proof social protection schemes, investment in social services, full implementation of the Child Guarantee, eradication of homelessness by 2030, high-quality and person-centred care, quality reception and integration of migrants and refugees, and improve the involvement of civil society.
In the webinar, we presented our reaction to the 2023 Autumn Package, looking at the Annual Sustainable Growth Survey and the Joint Employment Report. Although there has been a positive recognition of the need to strengthen social protection schemes, the focus is mainly on Minimum Income and wages, whereas other social protection elements and increasing social investment are mentioned much less. Concerning the Child Guarantee, we identified a strong focus on early childhood and disadvantaged households. However, the presented data is not updated to match the current inflation crisis, which deeply affects wide ranges of society, and in particular families and single parents, as we know from our members. With regard to reducing homelessness, during the past years, the European Semester process analysed the housing stock problem and the lack of social housing, but unfortunately, this has not been addressed this time, although the problem continues to prevail. We welcome the recognition of the risk of energy poverty and in-work poverty, although we are missing a clear reference to the overall increase of the risk of poverty. Likewise, mental health issues have been highlighted by our members as a pressing social issue in these times of constant crisis, but the Autumn Package fails to recognize it, although it risks severely impacting the labour market. Regarding the crisis in Ukraine, we acknowledge the recognition of the importance of granting social protection to refugees, however, we will continue advocating for better social services for all refugees. Finally, we welcome the emphasis on quality, accessible and affordable care, as well as on the existence of a labour shortage in the sector.
Finally, we discussed how our members can get involved in the 2023 Semester Process by giving an overview of the time cycles and the processes that social service providers and civil society organizations can influence. During the upcoming year, we will be working throughout the Semester Process, advocating on those areas where improvement is needed, and highlighting the essential role of social service and social services providers to guarantee the access to social rights and protection schemes.
Find the full recording of the webinar here, and the presentation here.