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New Report: Addressing the Funding Gap in Social Services

The European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) today launched its report: ‘The European Semester and Social Investment: Addressing the funding gap in social services.’ The report presents several key suggestions, as to how the EU can support its move towards a more Social Europe, through the European Semester process. Investment into social services has become even more crucial following the EU’s proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the successful implementation of which, will rely on the access all European citizens have, to high quality community-based social services, with well-trained staff.
EASPD’s report explores the need for increased investment into social services, to unlock the opportunities of the sector, including its ability to contribute to the achievement of the European Semester’s key economic and social goals, as well as to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
The report presents several suggestions as to how the European Commission can use the European Semester as a tool to support increased investment into social services. These suggestions recommend that the European Commission:

  •  Strengthens the narrative of social investment in the European Semester, in particular in the domain of public investment, to reflect the opportunities it provides for   inclusive growth, social cohesion and fiscal stability.
  • Collects data and includes targeted reporting on the status of social investment in each County Specific Report.
  • Increases the importance of public investment into social services in the Country Specific Recommendations.
  • Boosts public investment with the help of financial instruments, including the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI).

The European Semester is an annual process, which provides a multiannual framework to European Union (EU) Member States, to facilitate the coordination of their economic policies. The process, which begins with a EU wide Annual Growth Survey, followed by a Country Specific Reports, aims to ensure convergence and stability in the EU as well as foster economic growth. The final stage of the Semester’s process includes the provision of Country Specific Recommendations for each Member State. These country specific economic and budgetary policy recommendations are to be incorporated into a Member State’s reform plans and national budgets the following year, meaning that the European Semester is an important economic tool that can promote social policies as priorities of the EU and its Member States.  

EASPD’s recommendations are supported by national messages, from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France and Ireland, which focus on the specific changes we recommend to boost investment into social services at Member State level. These messages have been developed with the help of our members, who have reported on the actual needs of social services at a local level, to ensure that the sector’s needs are responded to appropriately.

Speaking about the launch of the report Luk Zelderloo, EASPD Secretary General, said: ‘The EU’s commitment to increasing the social dimension of Europe, through the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, is a step towards a fairer, more inclusive and cohesive Europe. Its commitment now needs to be put in practice. This can be done through the European Semester’s support for increased social investment, which will help to ensure the provision of high quality community-based social services, that can meet the demands of all of Europe’s citizens and allow them to participate fully in society.’

To read the report please click here.

Further Material

- EASPD Report: “European Semester: Developing More Inclusive Labour Markets for All?”(2016) EN
- EASPD Report: How can the European Semester help to implement the UN CRPD (2015) EN
-EASPD Report: Europe 2020 and the European Semester. Bringing Wellbeing to All? (2014) EN

Note to editors

The European Semester provides a multiannual framework which enables Member States to coordinate their economic policies across the European Union (EU) and monitor their progress throughout the year. The Semester’s cycle begins in November when the European Commission publishes its Annual Growth Survey (AGS). The AGS outlines the European Union’s most urgent economic and social priorities which the EU and its Member States must focus on over the next semester. Next the Commission publishes individual country reports for each Member State, assessing their economic and social policies. These reports are generally published in February and are used by the Commission, in conjunction with the national reform and stability/convergence programmes submitted by every state, to provide country-specific recommendations in May or June. These Country-Specific Recommendations provide each Member State with individual economic and budgetary policy recommendations which are to be incorporated into their reform plans and national budgets the following year.  
The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 12.000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.

For more information, please contact:


Rachel Vaughan
EASPD External Communications Officer
T. +32 (0) 22 33 77 23

Thomas Bignal
Investment Policy Advisor
T. +32 (0) 22 33 77 23