On the occasion of Europe Day, Eurodiaconia calls on Member States and European Institutions to ensure adequate space for civil dialogue in implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights.


The recent publication of the proposed European Pillar of Social Rights is a welcome commitment from the European Commission to ensuring that employment and social rights and opportunities are an essential element of any discussion on the future of Europe.  Eurodiaconia welcomes the emphasis on quality social services throughout the Pillar as well as tailored approaches to issues such as homelessness, income poverty and long term care.  Many of these issues were raised by Eurodiaconia and our national members in the consultation period, and we see their inclusion as a recognition of the voice and experience of social service providers and social advocates.


However, Eurodiaconia regrets that this voice and experience is not adequately taken into account when it comes to the Pillar’s implementation process. Whilst the Commission’s Staff Working document recognises civil dialogue as ‘vital for broadening participation in policy-making’, it fails to mention the role of social service providers and social advocates with regards to operationalising the Pillar’s individual principles. Without facilitating meaningful civil dialogue, the Pillar will not deliver effectively on its ambition of broadening participation, and it will fail to capitalise on the expertise of actors working directly with the very people the Pillar is meant to empower.


Eurodiaconia calls on the European Commission and on Member States to place social service providers and social advocates on an equal footing with social partners, by organising regular consultations, by involving civil society in the design and implementation of relevant policies, and by facilitating the exchange of good practices across borders.


Heather Roy, Secretary General of Eurodiaconia, commented “The European Pillar of Social Rights gives shape to the social Union that our members and our partners have been calling for.  Yet its potential will only be achieved if it heeds the voice of those working on the ground with vulnerable groups, regardless of whether these groups have access to the labour market. Without a commitment to structural civil dialogue, the Pillar is at risk of translating ambitious words into disappointing actions.”


Eurodiaconia is a dynamic, Europe-wide community of social and health care organisations founded in the Christian faith and working in the tradition of diaconia. It represents more than 40 members working in over 30 countries, including churches, not-for-profit welfare organisations and NGOs. Together, our members provide services to hundreds of thousands of persons in need across Europe.