Flagship Conference 2019

Recommendations of the 2nd Social Platform Flagship Conference in Helsinki

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About the conference

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Flagship Conference 2018


Following a series of panels, thematic workshops, study visits and a high-level round table with national government representatives including the current and forthcoming EU Presidencies, the 150 participants of our Flagship Conference put forward the following recommendations on an economy of wellbeing approach that leaves no one behind:

 The Economy of wellbeing encompasses a long-term approach, that…

  1. Looks at the impact of decisions and policies on people’s lives.
  2. Is based on a participatory governance structure.
  3. Ensures socioeconomic and environmental justice for all.

The Economy of wellbeing looks at the impact of decisions and policies on people’s lives

 Our six thematic workshops led to the following recommendations, which, if fully implemented, will bring concrete changes in people’s lives throughout Europe.

 The economy of wellbeing starts at work

  • Decent and adequately remunerated work is a precondition of wellbeing.
  • We request a framework directive on adequate minimum income.
  • We insist on the added value of social economy enterprises and cooperatives as they put people first before profits.
  • We expect ‘An economy that works for people’ dimension to be spelled out in the action plan for implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights (‘Social Pillar’).

Ensuring health equity and social justice in Europe

  • We insist on the need to reframe the discussion on the goals of the economy. GDP is currently the main indicator used to assess wellbeing. But, according to analysis by the WHO, GDP shows no relation to health equity.
  • We propose a health equity impact assessment to be introduced in the European Semester process. This could be used to assess the impact of country specific recommendations on health inequalities.
  • This impact assessment could be based on the WHO Health Equity Policy Tool with the five following essential conditions: 1) investment in health services, 2) income security and social protection, 3) investments in living conditions, 4) investment in social and human capital, 5) employment and working conditions.

Fighting homelessness in Europe

  • We call for the right to housing and assistance for the homeless (based on article 19 of the ‘Social Pillar’) to be implemented at EU level. Enhanced monitoring, policy guidance and investment should be the cornerstones of an ambitious EU-level action on homelessness under the future Commission.
  • All Member States should also develop integrated strategies to tackle homelessness. ‘Housing First’ in Finland is an inspiring practice: this policy establishes the right to housing and includes a person-centred approach to support according to individual needs.

Ensuring long-term care in Europe

  • We need to implement principle 18 of the Social Pillar through a European strategy on long-term care with a holistic and lifecycle approach, including a European platform to share good practices, improved data collection with harmonised definitions, indicators and corresponding European targets to assess the affordability, accessibility, quality and availability of long-term care services.
  • We call for an increase of the overall funding for person-centred long-term care to ensure innovation, high quality services and self-determination for persons in need of care.
  • We ask for the recognition of family/informal carers including social protection, right to choice and work-life balance; and for investment in carers’ human capital, skills’ development, training and peer support.

Funding community-based social services in Europe

  • Public procurement is not the appropriate tool to fund community-based person-centred care services.
  • We need to promote alternative models that support the development of flexible, partnership-based services, aimed at cohesion in society, such as reserved markets and personal budgets, which help service providers to better cater to users’ needs. We ask the Commission to encourage Member States to use these alternatives, instead of public procurement.
  • We need to shift the focus from quality of care to quality of life for people with support needs and wishes.

Funding a long-term comprehensive approach to migrant inclusion in Europe

  • We ask EU, national and local authorities to invest in long-term integration policies.
  • Such policies need to focus on people’s potential and allow for their personal ambitions or life projects to be fulfilled, including self-determination – going beyond the label of being a ‘migrant’.
  • We insist that governments ensure integration from day one, include a person-centred approach encompassing wellbeing, and involve migrants in the decision-making process on interventions that concern them.

The Economy of wellbeing is based on a participatory governance structure

  • We ask for the involvement of civil society organisations, in all stages of the EU decision-making process – including the design, implementation and monitoring of policies and legislation – to ensure decisions are based on the impact they have on people’s lives.
  • We call the future Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for ‘An Economy that Works for People’ to go beyond engaging only in social dialogue and to establish a structured relationship with civil society organisations to ensure that all decisions and policies are based on their impact on people’s lives.
  • We insist that the future Vice-President for ‘Democracy and Demography’ actively involves civil society organisations, right from the beginning of her mandate, in the development, contributions and follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Economy of wellbeing ensures socioeconomic and environmental justice for all

  • We ask for social inclusion, tax justice and environmental sustainability to be recognised by EU institutions and member states as core objectives of the future EU post-2020 strategy, including in economic, monetary and tax policy reforms.
  • We also insist that, to take stock of social developments at EU level and to monitor the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Agenda 2030, Members States, led by the current and upcoming presidencies, in partnership with EU institutions, organise an annual social summit, in which civil society organisations are engaged.

2019 “Building Social Europe” conference will took place in Helsinki, Finland on 16-18 September. Read participants’ recommendations here.

The second Flagship Conference will take place during a very crucial time: European leaders will be preparing the next EU legislature following the European elections results, negotiating, nominating and electing the future European Commission and filling in EU top jobs. All this will be taking place against the backdrop of growing popular mobilisation for greater social justice and democracy, stopping and reversing an environmental crisis and securing the future for the next generations. As civil society organisations active in the social sector, we will take a leading role in that debate and we will take our responsibility to make sure that the common good prevails over the interest of a few.

Our Flagship Conference will be an opportunity for our members and actors from a wider European social movement to debate with national and EU level decision-makers on how the European Union can prevent further decay in social justice, democracy and trust in the EU.

In particular we will look at:

1. Participatory democracy: How can civil society become the missing link between people and decision-makers?
2. Social justice: How to make the economy work for people?


16 September, Monday

11:00 – 13:00 Registration
12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
13:00 – 15:00 Public action
16:00 – 16:30 Opening and welcome – watch live stream here

  • Veli-Mikko Niemi, Director General, EU and International Affairs, Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
  • Ronald Wiman, Europe Region President of the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) and Chair of the Finnish ICSW Committee
  • Piotr Sadowski, President of Social Platform

Key note speech:

  • President Tarja Halonen, Former President of Finland

16:30 – 18:00 Panel 1: Regaining people’s trust – addressing the EU’s democratic deficit through civil dialogue – watch live stream here

  • Corina Stratulat, Senior Policy Analyst and the Head of the European Politics and Institutions Programme, European Policy Centre
  • Gunta Anča, Chair of the Latvian Umbrella Body for Disability Organisations (Sustento), Board member within the European Disability Forum
  • Laura Sullivan, Executive Director of We Move Europe
  • Maciej Kucharczyk, Vice-President of Social Platform

19:00 – 20:00 Reception by the City of Helsinki

Tuesday, 17 September

9:00 – 10:00 Plenary: Implementing the Social Pillar principles – watch live stream here

  • Kelig Puyet, Director of Social Platform
  • Rait Kuuse, Chair of Social Protection Committee (SPC)
  • Vertti Kiukas, Secretary General of SOSTE, Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health

10:00 – 12:00 Study visits/ Parallel workshops

  • The Economy of Well-Being starts at work (by CECOP-CICOPA Europe & SOLIDAR)
  • Health equity and social justice: aligning two policy agendas for a flourishing Europe (by EPHA)
  • Homelessness in Europe (by FEANTSA )
  • Long-term care (by AGE Platform Europe, COFACE Families Europe & Eurocarers)
  • Towards an economy of well-being: how to fund community-based social services? (by EASPD)
  • Funding for long-term integration of migrants (MHE, PICUM & ReSOMA)

Click here for more information about the workshops and study visits.

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
13:00 – 14:30 Study visits/ Parallel workshops   (continued)
14:30 – 15:00 break
15:00 – 16:30 Study visits/ Parallel workshops   (continued)
16:30 – 16:45 break
16:45 –  18:00 Plenary: reporting from study visits and workshops

19:00 Dinner

Wednesday, 18 September

9:00 – 10:00 High level round table with EU institutions and national governments – watch live stream here

  • Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Former President of Malta, President of Eurochild
  • Saila Ruuth, State Secretary to the Minister of Social Affairs and Health of Finland
  • Marija Pletikosa, State Secretary of the Ministry for Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy of Croatia
  • Dr. Carsten Stender, Director-General for European and International Employment and Social Policy, ESF of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
  • Kerstin Jorna, Deputy Director-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, European Commission (tbc)
  • Katarina Ivanković Knežević, Director for Social Affairs in the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission
  • Catherine Naughton, Vice-President of Social Platform

10:00 – 10:30 break

10:30 – 12:00 Panel 2: People first! How to create an economy that serves social justice – watch live stream here

  • Pia Pakarinen, Helsinki City Deputy Mayor for Education, Vice-chair of EUROCITIES Economic Development Forum
  • Enrico Giovannini, Economist and statistician, former Minister of Labour and Social Policies in Italy with past roles at OECD
  • Sherpa Gabriela Ramos, Chief of Staff, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (tbc)
  • Luc Cortebeeck, Former president and current member, Governing Body ILO
  • Claire Hédon, President of ATD Quart Monde
  • Leo Williams, Member of Social Platform Management Committee

12:00 – 12:30 Plenary: concluding remarks and closing – watch live stream here

  • Shannon Pfohman, Member of Social Platform Management Committee
  • Piotr Sadowski, President of Social Platform

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch and departures


VENUE: Folkhälsan, Topeliuksenkatu 20, 00250 Helsinki, Finland

This year’s Conference is organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland. The Conference will take place back to back with the Finnish EU High Level Presidency’s Conference on the Economy of Wellbeing. This topic is a priority of the Finnish Presidency with the aim of adopting Council Conclusions. A delegation from Social Platform will attend the Presidency conference and High level speakers of the Finnish Conference will participate in our Flagship event.


Our Flagship Conference 2019 is listed as an official side event of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the Europe Union 2019.

We are very grateful to SOSTE – Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health who provides enormous support in organising our Flagship Conference.


We express our gratitude to the City of Helsinki for organising a reception for our conference participants.

Flagship Conference 2018

The first Flagship Conference took place in November 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal and was organised in cooperation with the Portuguese Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security. The 2018 Flagship Conference primarily marked the first anniversary of the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, evaluated its implementation and identified actions needed for a meaningful implementation of the Pillar. More on our first Flagship Conference below.