Turning tides for social Europe?
Welcome to May’s edition of our ‘Social Compass’ newsletter, my first as Director of Social Platform – and what a time to be taking the helm! Social Europe was under the spotlight in May, with the EU Social Summit in Porto sparking a flurry of meetings and events on making the EU more equal and inclusive. Now that it’s over and the ink has dried on the declarations and commitments, the real work begins. So how do we capture this momentum and turn lip service into leaving no one behind?
This question was at the heart of our virtual Flagship Conference on 4-5 May, where a high-level panel and a series of workshops looked at how to take forward the Social Pillar and its Action Plan so that they have a lasting positive impact on real people. The Social Summit saw EU leaders endorse the targets set out in the Action Plan, but we need more ambitious national targets to make a real difference. For instance, the EU target on poverty reduction is only 15 million less people at risk of poverty by 2030; far below the ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is especially disappointing given the impact of COVID on poverty and inequality.
I was so glad to see an opening up of the institutional ivory tower at Porto. Too often we are side-lined, relegated to separate civil society side events; this time we were invited at top level to speak on the same basis as the social partners and to co-sign the conference commitment. This meant we were able to negotiate and make our demands on behalf of our members and the people we represent. To deliver on the promise to engage with civil society that was made at Porto, we’ll be sending the message that this is the type of meaningful engagement that we expect going forward in conversations like those that will be sparked by the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Porto was a great moment to take stock of how far we’ve come, but now we must set our sights on how far we’ve yet to go. Although all our eyes were fixed on Porto, the media largely looked away. To be a movement for social change in Europe, Social Platform must grab headlines, campaign for better policies for people and be seen as on par with the social partners when it comes to representing social civil society. That’s my vision for Social Platform, that we build a reputation as the strongest voice for social justice in Brussels and beyond.
Alva Finn, Director of Social Platform