Strong social commitments needed from upcoming Latvian EU Presidency

‘Involve in real dialogue with social NGOs to achieve change’: that was the message delivered today [December 8] at a meeting between Latvian social non-governmental organisations and Social Platform – the largest civil society alliance fighting for social justice and participatory democracy in Europe – in Riga.

Over 20 Latvian social NGOs with membership of European affiliates of Social Platform joined a networking meeting with a delegation of EU Social Platform representatives to discuss the upcoming Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The meeting was divided into three workshops: social inclusion and poverty, access to services of general interest and the involvement of civil society in decision making.

An overarching theme was the need for the Latvian Presidency to commit to meaningful engagement with social NGOs – both at national and European level – in order to achieve real progress in the EU’s social dimension.

Further specific recommendations to the Latvian Presidency include:

  • Promote the potential of the European Social Fund for the fight against poverty and social exclusion, ensuring that NGOs and other associations have proper information about funding opportunities.
  • Implement the EU Quality Framework for Social Services.
  • Encourage member state financial support to NGOs’ membership in European umbrella organisations to be an active part of the EU policy-making process.

Participants will meet again tomorrow, along with other Latvian NGOs, European institution representatives, Latvian government officials and the press, to deliver the finalised key messages from the networking meeting at a conference with Uldis Augulis, Latvian Minister for Welfare.

Following the networking meeting, Pierre Baussand, Director of Social Platform, said:

‘Our meeting today signified the call of NGOs not just in Latvia, but across the whole of the EU, on our political representatives to commit to a structured dialogue with them. The social situation across the EU will not improve unless the contribution of NGOs to the political narrative is given the emphasis it deserves. I look forward to hearing the Latvian government’s response, and, more importantly, seeing how they will put their words into action during their six-month term in office in the Council of the EU.’