NGOs call on Latvian Presidency to invest in human capital

Non-governmental organisations from Latvia and the European Union met  today [December 9] with Uldis Augulis, Latvian Minister for Welfare, to call on the Latvian government to invest in human capital during its upcoming six-month Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The conference, hosted by Social Platform – the largest civil society alliance fighting for social justice and participatory democracy in Europe – saw EU and Latvian NGOs present their key recommendations to Minister Augulis and government officials, which were set out in a networking meeting yesterday.

The key messages – developed in a series of workshops centred around social inclusion and poverty, access to services of general interest and the involvement of civil society in decision making – were delivered to the conference by a panel of Latvian NGO representatives, and included:

  • Social investment is an economic priority. The EU must stop viewing social issues as a cost, but rather see them as an investment, with long-term economic benefits. The EU cannot be truly competitive – one of the Latvian Presidency’s priorities – without social investment.
  • Use EU funds to achieve the aims of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The EU is still failing to meet the targets of the Strategy on poverty and social inclusion, employment and education. Funds including the European Energy Efficiency Fund can also be applied to help reach these goals.
  • All services across the EU should comply with the principle of minimum requirement: affordability, accessibility, quality, universality, availability and accountability.
  • Financial support to local and national NGOs is vital for EU involvement. Local and national NGOs have expertise that would contribute to European solutions; financial contributions from the EU to ensure membership of European umbrella organisations would enable participation in this process.

Social Platform encouraged the Latvian Presidency to regard the conference as the opening of a meaningful dialogue between Latvian civil society organisations and decision makers that should continue throughout the Presidency, and beyond.