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The European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) is a significant piece of social policy put forward by the European Commission. It contains 20 principles written as statements which set out rights for European citizens. They are not legally binding and are more aspirational in nature. The principles cover many issues relevant for social services including support to children, inclusion of people with disabilities, long-term care and housing.

Many of the principles correspond to competences assigned to local public social services, which are directly responsible for the implementation of policies and practices that can uphold the rights of people, especially the most vulnerable. They are therefore critical stakeholders to be consulted and supported if the principles included in the EPSR are to be realised.

Representing social services at European Conference on the Pillar of Social Rights

The European Social Network (ESN) will underline the important role of local public social services for the EPSR’s implementation during the European Commission’s flagship social policy event: The 2018 Annual Convention for Inclusive Growth (ACIG). This year it will focus on the EPSR and is taking place on 27 April in Brussels.

ESN chief executive, Alfonso Lara Montero, will join a panel discussion where he will highlight key messages from ESN’s position paper on the EPSR and how social services hope that the EPSR will support them in their work in local communities across Europe.

ESN will also jointly host a side-event with EUROCITIES, the network for large cities in Europe. The side-event, ‘From Principle to Action: Implementing the Pillar at Local Level’, will give ESN and EUROCITIES members from France, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK the chance to present how EU tools (such as policies and structural funds) can support them in implementing the EPSR principles. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss how local practices are contributing to the implementation of the EPSR.

In addition, ESN has facilitated the inclusion of its members Ana Radulescu from the Centre for Training and Assessment in Social Work (CFCECAS), Romania, and Matthias Schulze-Böing from the Association of Local Employment Policy, Germany, in the ACIG workshop ‘The enabling and supporting role of social services’. They will discuss how access to quality social services can be ensured for those who need them.

ESN member, the Region of Catalonia, will also separately present their guaranteed income project during a ‘speed-dating’ session.

The EPSR principles currently represent benchmarks to measure progress by the Member States, with policy guidance and European Structural and Investment Funds the main methods of implementation. To ensure that the principles can become reality, it is imperative that the Commission engages with local social services in their implementation measures. How this can be achieved will be the main point of discussion by ESN and its members during the ACIG.

You will be able to keep up-to-date on the debates at the ACIG and ESN’s key messages by following our live reporting on social media: