Earlier this week, our partner the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) launched  its latest report titled: “Investing in Social Care and Support, a European Imperative” in a Conference organised in cooperation with the European Policy Centre. During the conference EASPD called on the European Union to develop a European Strategy for Quality Social Infrastructure. The Strategy would include a fund dedicated to the needs of the social sectors, strengthen the capacity of social service providers and investors to build a pipeline of quality projects and support the exchange of quality social infrastructure investment standards.

Opening the Conference, Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council and President of EPC, stated that “Europe is poorly prepared to face the investment gap in social care and support” and called for “collective solutions to be developed.

Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD, presented the new report and suggested three priority actions to be included in the European Strategy:

  • A Fund suited to the needs and specificities of the social sector
  • The development of local social investment platforms to develop a pipeline of viable investment projects; by helping to bundle smaller projects and blend ressources, including structural funds;
  • A permanent European High Level Taskforce for Quality Social Infrastructure; to provide guidance, support and technical advice to the local platforms and to the European institutions;
  • A European social investment data collection body; to better track and assess the trends and needs in terms of human capital development, the provision of quality care and support services and the funding of the sector.

Leaders of the social services sector from six EU member states (Finland, Ireland, France, Austria, Belgium, Spain) highlighted the negative impact of austerity on their activities and the crucial need for additional public investment into the sector. They also highlighted the challenges they face in accessing private investment; yet also agreed on the positive impact improved access to decent loans could have in achieving their objectives.

The Conference was also an opportunity to present the work of the High-Level Taskforce on Social Infrastructure, chaired by Romano Prodi, and its report on “Boosting investments in social infrastructure in Europe.”

To know more about a European Strategy for Quality Social Infrastructure, have a look at EASPD’s latest report