New EU Care Strategy: Time to Act, Time to Use NGO Expertise
On 7th September, the European Commission published its new EU Care Strategy, alongside two proposals for Council Recommendations on Long Term Care and Early Childhood Education and Care. The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) welcomes these initiatives and calls on Member States to take up the key messages and act to end the care crisis around Europe. EASPD also offers its expertise to help support the implementation of the Strategy.
The European Commission has published its new EU Care Strategy which sets a cross-European and holistic agenda on Care for the very first time. The EU Care Strategy pushes for improvements to the quality of care services, specifically looking into their impact on the quality of life of service beneficiaries. It promotes improved wages and working conditions for care workers, mostly women. It calls for a better balance between work and care responsibilities, in particular to tackle gender inequalities. It supports stronger and better investment into home and community-based care, highlighting the role of the social economy. The Strategy backs this up through a series of supportive EU actions – primarily through different EU funding programmes and mutual learning and exchange activities.
The EU Care Strategy is accompanied by proposals by the EU Commission for two Council Conclusions, which are in short recommendations that Member States make to themselves on different topics. The first is on “access to affordable high-quality long-term care” which covers concrete recommendations to Member States in the aforementioned areas. The second is on the “Revision of the Barcelona Targets on early childhood education and care”, which aims to strengthen pre-existing cross-EU childcare targets with a stronger focus on vulnerable or disadvantaged children. Both proposed Council Conclusions will also require Member States to report back to the EU Commission through national plans. It will now be up to the Member States to finalise these proposals; a process which is planned to take place by the end of 2022 under the Czech Presidency.
Welcoming the EU Care Strategy, Ms Maya Doneva, Secretary General at EASPD, said “this Strategy sends a clear message to national authorities: that quality social care is a public good, enabling human rights enjoyment, tackling gender and economic inequalities and with a return on investment for public authorities. This however requires a more resilient social care sector, with more and better funding for person-centred care services, to create decent jobs and career paths for workers and for quality frameworks that matter. But if stuck at EU level, nothing will change. We need to make sure this Strategy has an impact on-the-ground and that national, regional and local authorities actually take it seriously. In that regard, EASPD, our members and partners have an important role to play to guide, implement and promote this new EU Care Strategy”.
Mr Thomas Bignal, Head of Policy at EASPD, added that “the Strategy is strong on building the resilience of social care provision and what types of services should be prioritised, but weaker on how to transform the existing services to meet these new and evolving demands, especially in line with international human rights standards. To move forward, the EU Commission and national authorities will have to rely on the expertise of those active in these fields, including the NGO social care provider networks. EASPD stands ready to help with its membership, expertise and promising practices”.
On Friday, 9th September, EASPD alongside 7 other European networks are organising a webinar in order for the EU Commission to present the initiative and for MEPs and the EU networks to share their initial reactions. The Webinar – starting at 11h CEST – will particularly target national stakeholders, interested in the EU Care Strategy. Registrations are still open.
EASPD is also organising an International Conference, this October, on “Quality of Life & Support Services: From Words to Action” together with our co-host in Malta. The Conference will focus on discussing and bringing practical tools to help develop the quality of care services, as promoted by the new EU Care Strategy. Register here.
Head of Policy
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Note to editors:
The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organisation, established in 1996, and currently representing over 20,000 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.