Over the last two weeks, I had the privilege of leading two study visits from partners and members here in Brussels. The study visits saw one of our members in the Czech Republic, Diakonia ECCB, and our partner in Romania, Federatia Filantropia, coming to Brussels within a week of each other. Even though the two events focused on different topics, including State aid and access to EU funding, they shared a cooperative spirit and high level of professionalism. The visits were also an occasion for Diakonia ECCB and Federatia Filantropia to develop professional ties with Members of the European Parliament and EU Commission officials.

During the meetings, I was truly impressed by the quality of our members’ and partners’ analysis, proving the experience and expertise that diaconal organisations across Europe have gained over many long years in the service of the most deprived in our society. However, what struck me most was the need of EU Officials and MEPs to be updated and challenged by the social sectors, as well as their gratitude for our advocacy work.

As a Brussels-based professional working for an NGO doing advocacy in the vast EU arena, sometimes I wonder: “Is this really working?”
It is indeed! Advocacy is the second pillar of our organisation’s strategic plan which aims to enable members to bring about positive change on a greater scale, to impact relevant social policies both at national and European level. This is a long and arduous task which leads us to constantly re-examine our strategies and priorities. At the same time, it enables us to draw on our members’ experience to show the impact of current social policy initiatives, and to suggest improvements.

Over the last 20 years, Eurodiaconia has helped diaconal organisations and social service providers across Europe to be recognized at EU level as essential players in civil society. I think that through our work we haven’t only dealt with the symptoms of social exclusion, but we have also ensured that the structures of injustice have been addressed.

Of course, we are aware that our commitment is only a drop in the ocean but the last two study visits showed that our work here in Brussels is vital to ensuring the major EU political actors take responsibility for social issues. We truly believe that advocacy is a key tool for addressing the root causes of inequality, and we will keep working hard to make the voice of the people in the margins heard.

Have a good weekend,