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Editorial from Luk Zelderloo - "2017 : half-time score"

Dear EASPD members and friends,

With summer approaching, and policymakers and institutions reducing their pace of work, EASPD has space to breath, look back and evaluate our work and prepare ourselves for what’s to come.

And I am very satisfied with what we achieved. We have had a real impact over the last 6 months…

Let’s start with our work in financing of services: we launched our flagship website with information on how the EU Investment Plan can help the social sector get access to better loans. Through it we are educating not only socials services, but also public authorities and, of course, investors. But it’s not all digital! We also organised very successful events with social services, investors and the European Investment Bank in Paris, Dublin and Vienna. And, in the second half of 2017, we will organise more events and a European Conference with key European and national stakeholders. A very positive outcome of this work is that we created a very important and productive relationship with the European Investment Bank, who participated in all our national events.

In terms of our work on employment for persons with disabilities, it’s worth to mention the “Employment for All – a global perspective” conference which we organised in partnership with EUSE and had more than 650 delegates from 48 different countries. Also, the fruitful work done in the context of the DESC project, which concluded on the 21st of June with a final conference where we discussed the findings with policymakers of European Institutions, representatives of Disabled Persons’ Organisations and providers of social services. In the second part of 2017, we aim to develop the cooperation agreement that was signed in June between EASPD, EUSE and the European Network of Public Employment Services (ENPES). Public Employment Services are important partners on the quest to promote full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labour market.

We also had quite a big impact on the development of the European Pillar of Social Rights with the Commission’s second proposal and the European Parliament’s opinion both picking up on our main messages.  We look forward to the Gothenburg Conference in November for the final results.

Many other policy achievements are worth mentioning: the integration of many of our proposals in the European Semester Recommendations; the excellent progress of the taskforce on support services of tomorrow (which is working on our co-production principle); and, of course, the launch of the Common Declaration on the Contribution of Social Services to Europe which declared the interest of Employers in the field of Social Services to participate in European Social Dialogue.

And we had proof that our voice is respected at a global level: EASPD participation in the 10th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD, where we co-organised 2 side events (1 in cooperation with the European Commission and Council of Europe). This  shows that we are an important partner for the United Nations.
In this last six months, we also launched a very important tool for members: the funding information system. After long, hard work by the Development, Research and Innovation team, members have a one-stop shop to learn about funding calls, find project partners and get help creating project proposals. 

And there is also great news on the research front: during the “Community Planning and Inclusive Services – Perspectives for European Research Activities”, held in April by us and the University of Siegen, researchers from all over Europe committed to develop a European research platform for inclusive community planning and service development for people with disabilities. This platform will allow us to have access to world-class research to support the promotion of high-quality services.

This semester also saw two important elections: Our policy manager, Sabrina Ferraina, was elected co-chair of the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care and Patricia Scherer, Deputy Director of Public Affairs in charge of European Relations at Nexem, was elected, on behalf of EASPD, for the management committee of the Social Platform: the largest network of European rights- and value-based civil society organisations working in the social sector!

Finally, I would like to welcome the 12 new members and observers that joined us in this exciting trip. We are now representing more than 15.000 social service providers: this makes us an important  social actor with the power to affect real policy change at national, European and International level.

With 12 projects still running and more to come, we expect the next 6 months to be even more fruitful!

Have a great summer,
Luk Zelderloo