Yesterday, the European Commission launched its 2017 Spring Package, which includes a series of Country-Specific Recommendations to Member States. The Country Specific Recommendations outline the Commission’s perspective on what are the major economic challenges in each Member State. The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) welcomes the stronger emphasis on responding to social challenges and the progress made by the European Commission towards better engagement with civil society in finding adequate solutions.
In November 2016, EASPD launched the report “European Semester: Developing more inclusive labour markets for all?”, developed with our members, which outlined the challenges support services face in helping people with disabilities onto the labour market, as well as proposing solutions. EASPD is pleased to announce that the European Commission has responded positively to the report with the proposed Country Specific Recommendations 2017 -launched yesterday- reflecting many of our own proposals.
Our proposal to create a legal framework in Bulgaria to allow social services to provide additional services for the activation of unemployed people was picked up by the proposed Country Specific Recommendation (CSR) which advised Bulgaria to “Improve the targeting of active labour market policies and the integration between employment and social services for disadvantaged groups“.
Our suggestion to remedy the often siloed mechanisms of government departments through changes to the Comprehensive Employment Strategy in Ireland was also included in the Commission’s CSR which recommends the Irish Government to “deliver an integrated package of activation policies to increase employment prospects of low-skilled people”.
The Commission have also recommended to Portugal to “ensure effective activation of the long-term unemployed” by making the crucial step to help “public employment services cooperate effectively with social services to better identify and address the needs of this group”. In our 2016 report, EASPD called for “further proximity and communications channels between public authorities, organisations working in this field (social services), enterprises and people with disabilities”.
Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General of EASPD, said “these recommendations show that by working together, the European Commission and EASPD’s membership can really make a difference in pushing for better policies. This will effectively help improve people’s lives and the European economy as a whole”.
Mr Jim Crowe, President of EASPD, gave a note of caution arguing that “a major barrier for social inclusion and inclusive growth continues to be the black and white nature of the EU’s fiscal rules, which can undermine the need for targeted investments towards helping social services make the necessary transition from institutional to community-based care services”.
In 2017, EASPD will continue to work with its membership to better outline the major trends, challenges and opportunities they encounter regarding the funding of quality care and support services. We plan to bring these messages to the European Commission in November to support their understanding of what funding is needed to create real opportunities for all, as well as to achieve inclusive growth.
- Press Release in PDF
- EASPD Report: "European Semester, Developing Inclusive Labour Markets for All?" (2016)
- EASPD Study by Dr. Stephen Beyer: "The economic impact of inlcusion in the open labour market for persons with disabilities" (2016)
For more information, please contact Thomas Bignal, Policy Advisor, +32 2 233 27 23