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Top EU officials organise constructive exchange on social services during COVID-19

On 29th April 2020, the European Commission organised a high-level meeting to exchange on the impact of COVID-19 on social services and exchange on EU initiatives to support service providers in this current situation. Chaired by Vice President of the European Commission Dubravka Šuica and attended by European Commissioners Nicolas Schmit, Stella Kyriakides and Helena Dalli, the meeting brought to light issues linked to funding, staffing and protective equipment in social services and the impact of this on persons with disabilities, older persons, and others benefitting from care and support.

Following the launch of EASPD’s Snapshot report on the “Impact of COVID-19 on Disability Services in Europe”, EASPD co-organised today a High-Level Meeting to discuss the state of play of social services since the beginning of the pandemic and exchange views on possible EU initiatives to further support the service providers.

The High-Level Meeting was chaired by Vice President of the European Commission Dubravka Šuica and attended by European Commissioners Nicolas Schmit, Stella Kyriakides and Helena Dalli, as well as representatives from EASPD, the European Disability Forum, the European Federation of Public Service Unions and others.

In his opening remarks, Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD, affirmed the need for the EU to play a more important role in tackling the social consequences of COVID-19 as that is what is expected -and needed- by social service providers. The discussion then covered the major challenges linked to the human rights of people, staffing challenges and recognition of social workers, ensuring continuity to the funding of social service providers and meeting additional costs, prioritizing access to protective equipment and other more long-term challenges. This was followed by an open and fruitful exchange on follow-up steps the European Commission could promote to support action at national level. Initiatives discussed ranged from Targeted Guidance to Member States on social service provision during COVID-19, to the mobilization of EU funds and a possible EU emergency fund for social services. The meeting also addressed the need for existing EU initiatives to refer to and support better the specific challenges experienced by social services during the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative and the Guidelines on the uplifting of confinement measures.

Following the exchange, Mr Luk Zelderloo stated “this meeting is an extremely welcomed step. Bringing together a Vice President and three European Commissioners shows just how important the European Commission sees and values social service providers and the millions of professionals working to support people across Europe.  It is too early to come to definite conclusions, but I have high hopes such a meeting will lead to concrete measures at EU level to support social services and the millions of people who benefit from them. We will be there to help and advise.”


Background information
Note to editors

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 17,000 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 Communications Officer
+32 2 233  77 20