Social Platform General Assembly 2018!

On 24 April 2018 members of Social Platform gathered for the 23rd spring General Assembly, our highest governing body. Here are the highlights of what was an action-packed day*…

Exchange with Joost Korte

Having taken over as Director-General of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion just last month, Joost Korte attended our General Assembly for a frank exchange. For most, if not all, it was our first opportunity to meet Mr Korte and listen to his vision for DG EMPL – and how he plans to seal the future of the European Pillar of Social Rights ahead of the European elections in 2019. After an introduction from Mr Korte where he demonstrated his firm grasp of the many policy portfolios on his desk – including the Work-Life Balance Directive, the Social Fairness Package, and the EU Accessibility Act – the floor was opened to members to put their questions and concerns to him. The exchange launched what we to be the beginning of a renewed spirit of cooperation between civil society organisations and DG EMPL, towards the realisation of a more sustainable and inclusive EU.

Developing our common vision for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights

As a network of EU level organisations working on many complementary and overlapping topics, the General Assembly is a chance for us to come together to inspire and be inspired. As well as allowing space for informal exchanges in the coffee breaks, there was considerable time set aside for a series of breakout sessions on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The sessions focused on the four-pronged approach laid out in our comprehensive implementation plan: policy, governance, funding, and civil dialogue. The sessions led to a number of recommendations on how to move implementation forward, which were reported back to members. Also present were Jeroen Jutte, Resa Koleva-Demonty and Maria Baroni of DG EMPL, who shared their reflections.

Building each other up – supporting minimum income

Empowering civil society organisations to act and grow is not the sole responsibility of national governments and EU institutions – we also have a duty to each other. This is the spirit in which the General Assembly participated in the launch of the European Minimum Income Network’s European bus tour. Armed with banners touting the social and economic benefits of minimum income schemes, our members were joined by other civil society actors, faith leaders, Members of the European Parliament, and European Commissioner Marianne Thyssen. Our President Jana Hainsworth outlined Social Platform’s position on minimum income, highlighting the importance of such schemes as they go beyond employment and act as a trampoline to prevent poverty and social exclusion.

Stock-taking and forward-looking

From the first summit on social rights in twenty years, to the rebalancing of socio-economic priorities, to increased recognition of civil society as a key stakeholder, 2017 gave us reason to be optimistic about the future of Europe. This was the message shared with the General Assembly by our President Jana Hainsworth and Director Kélig Puyet as they took a look back on our shared achievements (read more in our Annual Report 2017). This stock-taking exercise set the scene for the rest of the day’s activities, with members encouraged to exchange on a number of advocacy and communications actions set out in our 2018 Work Programme including a campaign ahead of the 2019 European Parliament elections and our November 2018 flagship event marking one year since the proclamation of the Social Pillar.

Growing our Social Platform family

Social Platform represents the heart of civil society’s efforts to revive democracy and social progress across Europe. We now have one more member of our family to help us in this endeavour – Save the Children. Members approved their membership unanimously, bringing the total number of members up to 49.

Members sign off on 2017 accounts

After short presentations by our Treasurer Jorge Nuño Mayer and DGST’s Michelle Albert, Social Platform’s 2017 accounts were unanimously approved by the General Assembly. Despite 2017 being a year of many changes, the 2017 budget deviated by only 1%!

*Photos from GA 2018 © Thierry Maroit.