ESN’s latest annual report Bringing together Europe and local communities: Social services priorities for the European Semester 2018’ contains country profiles, cross-country analysis and policy recommendations based on analysis by ESN’s Reference Group on the European Semester.
Many trends and themes emerge from the country profiles, with social services across Europe often tackling similar issues. These include the effects of the financial crisis, which remains a critical issue for social services, with cuts having a considerable and enduring impact on families and vulnerable groups. The effects of the financial crisis are evident, for example, in high youth and long-term unemployment, with social services highlighting the need to introduce measures which can improve people’s competences and quality of life.
Housing exclusion has been highlighted as an increasingly severe issue. For example, in Dublin, Ireland, 6,314 homeless adults accessed emergency accommodation between January and December 2016, 42% of whom were doing so for the first time. This is no longer affecting just the most vulnerable groups, and that it will remain a salient issue in the future.
Group members highlighted the role of EU funds in supporting community-care, the creation of new social services and aiding the implementation of social inclusion strategies for specific populations, such as the Roma or refugees. However, they also emphasised that the EU places too much focus on outputs rather than actual outcomes, which often leads to poor implementation.
Despite the picture presented by the Commission of improving socio-economic conditions, ESN’s Reference Group indicates that social services at the local level are tackling a number of pressing challenges. The analysis of the situation in their countries and their policy recommendations provide the Commission with a valuable local perspective on these issues, as the Commission prepares the country reports which are the next step of the European Semester and due to be published in February 2018.
EuCDN Update 13 Newsletter