EUROSHIP – putting people at the heart of policy

Last month Helen, Silvana and I attended the 4th Consortium meeting of the Horizon 2020 funded EUROSHIP project in Prato, Italy. It was an intense three days of meetings to discuss how to fight against poverty and social exclusion. It was also only our second chance to meet in person as the project had the misfortune of starting just before the pandemic! Given that the meeting was in a spartan convent in the beautiful Tuscan countryside – with little to no wifi – it was a great opportunity to finally get to know our project partners from eight universities across the EU.

It was a packed agenda, covering discussions about the work done on the review of indicators and data on poverty and social exclusion, the various working papers the project has published on issues ranging from bringing the labour market closer to young people, to work-life balance, to minimum income, and the first policy brief on gaps in social citizenship in Europe.

Real solutions need real stories

We also had the chance to discuss the interviews that the teams from Oslo, Florence, Sussex, Milan, Barcelona, Tallinn, Budapest and Hamburg are conducting with people on the ground. The aim is to learn more about how people cope with and try to overcome the risk of poverty and social exclusion. The people being interviewed cover a broad spectrum of ages, education levels, ethnicities, and physical abilities. The interviews are helping to bring to light the difficult realities faced by millions of people across the EU; one of the participants from Budapest told me about one interviewee in particular, a young single mother, who was already working two jobs and struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, she was faced with not only losing the majority of her income, but also having to juggle care responsibilities for her child.

Our team shared some upcoming avenues where we can use the knowledge and experiences the project is collecting to advocate for a more social Europe that puts the wellbeing of people at the fore. One example is the Care Strategy announced by President Von der Leyen in her State of the European Union speech, where we can make the case for proper support for informal carers on behalf of people like the mother interviewed in Budapest. Next year’s French Presidency of the Council of the EU also has the potential to continue the strong social legacy of the Portuguese Presidency. Whether or not the French seize this opportunity depends heavily on the results of the French presidential election that will be held in the middle of their six-month presidency. All the eyes are on them…but this is for the next blog!