In the lead-up to the 2021 State of the Union, Eurodiaconia calls on the European Union to place social and environmental objectives at the centre of the European recovery. 

On 15 September, Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen will deliver her second State of the Union speech to Members of the European Parliament.

Following another year marked by Covid-19 and its crosscutting impact which has resulted in insecurity for many, increased danger of poverty and exacerbated already existing inequalities, the eyes and ears of Europe will be watching and listening intently on Wednesday.

Above all, a fair post-pandemic recovery that leaves no one behind must be the priority of the 2021 State of the Union.  To effectively recover from the crisis Europe needs a Green and Social Deal.

The European Commission has already introduced initiatives to facilitate the EU’s Covid-19 recovery, such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) and the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) Action Plan.

However, whereas we welcome the EPSR Action Plan, on its own it is not enough to ensure a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for the most vulnerable in our societies and must not exist in isolation.  Addressing poverty and social exclusion in Europe requires political and institutional commitments that are ambitious and consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals and integrated into all other policies.

The European Green Deal has been presented as the flagship growth strategy for this Commission but it falls short in delivering a socially balanced approach.  Eurodiaconia, welcomes the strategy’s aim of ensuring a ‘just transition.’ However, in reality, this does not go far enough in ensuring that people living in poverty are protected from the negative impacts of this process. The climate emergency is already disproportionately impacting people in the most vulnerable situations.

Ahead of this year’s State of the Union, we urge the European Commission to ensure that Europe has a Green and Social Deal, addressing the risk that people experiencing poverty and social exclusion do not pay the price for the green transition.  Strategies and policies must address the causes of negative climate change in our societies and those who cause them while also ensuring that people and communities affected by climate change are not adversely affected by transitions to new models of employment, business and development. 

We need a new model of development that includes addressing wealth redistribution measures, quality employment, building strong and adequate social protection systems and quality services for all.   Ensuring that the ambition of the EPSR Action Plan and the Green Deal are integrated will give a clear message to people across Europe that the EU has people and planet at its core.

Eurodiaconia Secretary General, Heather Roy, stated:

“Europe needs a Green and Social Deal.  Recovery from the pandemic must bring together social and environmental objectives that go beyond those already proposed.  We call on President von der Leyen to place social actions on the same footing as those addressing climate change to ensure a truly just transition and recovery from the pandemic.”

With over 30,000 service centres, approximately 800,000 staff and over a million volunteers around Europe, the Eurodiaconia network is a dynamic, Europe-wide community of social and health care organisations founded in the Christian faith and working in the tradition of Diaconia.