EASPD: Social Inclusion must be a priority in Juncker Investment Plan 2.0

  EASPD believes the extension of the European Fund for Strategic Investment must include a stronger focus on supporting and empowering those most disadvantaged in society to thrive. Supporting adequate investment into social infrastructure must be a priority for the European Union to achieve Jean-Claude Juncker’s social triple A for Europe. In a position paper launched today, EASPD outlines three major steps for EFSI to achieve this: capacity building for social actors, better targeting the social sector and earmarking for social projects.   On 14th September, the European Commission proposed to extend and empower the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI 2.0), a European instrument aimed at unlocking billions of private investment into the economy. According to research made by EASPD, there is very little evidence of any significant investment into social services through this mechanism. Mr Thomas Bignal, Policy Officer EASPD, stated that “despite an increase in demand due to demographic and social changes, funding for social services has dropped in all EU countries. This has led to important gaps between current levels of investment and the much higher investment needs of many social services. Wasn’t the EFSI created to precisely meet these unmet gaps in investment?”. Earlier this year, EASPD published a study assessing how social services could access EFSI. Although the instrument is open to all sectors, the study demonstrated that the reality was far different with clear barriers for the sector to successfully access the instrument and under 1% of EFSI being invested into social services. To ensure that EFSI 2.0 fills in the investment gap for social services and contributes further to social inclusion in Europe, EASPD proposes amendments to the European Commission proposal for policy makers to consider. The amendments cover three main areas: Capacity building by significantly strengthening access to technical assistance at national and regional level; Better targeting by creating sectoral investment platforms at national and regional level for sectors with limited access to EFSI Earmarking for social infrastructure to support social and economic inclusion in Europe; in particular for the growing numbers of disadvantaged people and the over 120 million people living in poverty and social exclusion in Europe. Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD, calls on Members of the European Parliament and the Council to “ensure that EFSI 2.0 makes a real difference for people in Europe and creates the right environment which will allow people and society to thrive” adding “what better way is there to do just that than by investing and modernising social services, schools, hospitals and social housing. This would create a win-win situation: creating new jobs and creating an enabling environment for all”.   Related documents EASPD Proposed Amendments to EFSI 2.0 as proposed by the European Commission (November 2016) EASPD press release : Time for EU Investment Plan to do more for Social Services EASPD Study: Unlocking the EFSI for Social Services EASPD State of Play Briefing on EFSI and Social Services in English / in French Download the press release in pdf format. Note to editors EASPD is a non-profit European organisation, established in 1996, and currently representing over 12.000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates for effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the principles of the UN CRPD. EASPD promotes equal opportunities for persons with disabilities through the provision of individualised services. The EASPD network supports and promotes the structural cooperation with all stakeholders in society as well as innovation in the sector. EASPD also calls for fair working conditions and training for professionals working in services for people with disabilities.

EASPD New Study: Unlocking the Juncker Package for Social Services

​ EASPD announces its study on unlocking the Juncker Package (European Fund for Strategic Investment -EFSI) for the Social Services sector. The study provides practical steps and recommendations on how to ensure that EFSI supports the financing of projects in this sector, as well as an overall analysis of the barriers currently hindering this process; both from the perspective of social service providers and financial intermediaries.   In 2015, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) welcomed the creation of the European Fund for Strategic Investment –otherwise known as the Juncker Package- to re-launch private investment into the real economy; and in particular the inclusion of social service providers as a target group. Although not a replacement for the essential adequate public funding for the delivery and continuity of high quality social services, EASPD views EFSI as able to play a complementary role to support the financing of certain specific projects in social services where private investment already plays a role. In such projects, EFSI can help to unlock better financial terms for social service providers when applying for support from a bank or other financial intermediary.   However, up until December 2015, EFSI had yet to support a project in the field of social services, a missed opportunity in the eyes of EASPD. For this reason, EASPD commissioned a study divided into 5 separate reports looking at (1) the practical steps to gain access to EFSI for social service providers and financial intermediaries (report 1, 2 & 3), (2) the key barriers currently hindering this process (report 4) and (3) recommendations to the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (report 5).   Based on this study, EASPD calls on the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to   Provide information on the EFSI targeted to the specific needs of the social services sector to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to the economy; Facilitate the creation of national one-stop-shops for the EFSI and to harmonise the process; Organise sector specific capacity-building and networking sessions between all stakeholders at national or regional level; Include experts in the field of social services in the European Investment Advisory Hub and the EIB’s internal social unit; and organise workships with civil society to exchange views on quality considerations in health and social services; Develop more flexible and adjustable administrative formats (grouping projects, etc) to facilitate uptake from smaller social service providers; Ensure that the EFSI is used to complement the financing of the EaSI programme and create synergies with the European Structural and Investment Funds. EASPD views these recommendations as key to unlocking the EFSI for the social services sector. Similarly, EASPD commits to take practical steps together with the social services sector to assess if certain projects could be supported by the EFSI and how this could be done.   If all stakeholders manage to bridge the current gap, EFSI could be a significant new tool to finance innovation in the sector, investment in human capital and build or renovate much needed community-based social infrastructure.   Relevant Documents EASPD Study: Unlocking the EFSI for Social Services EASPD Press Release in PDF Note to editors The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 12.000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.   Contact Nieves Tejada Castro, EASPD Communications Officer Thomas Bignal, EASPD Policy Officer  

EFSI in Finland: First social impact bond scheme in Europe supports integration in Finland

As a promoter of the use of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) by social infrastructure projects EASPD is pleased to report on a new social bond scheme, recently announced in Finland. The first of its kind in Europe, the scheme is the result of an agreement between the European Investment Fund (EIF), Epiqus, a fund manager dedicated to investments with a social impact, and the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The investment of €10 million, by the EIF, was made possible with the support of EFSI, a key financial instrument that EASPD believes can aid the development of the social sector. The creation of this social impact bond scheme is a promising development for the future use of EFSI in the social sector. The aim of this first scheme in Finland, will be to support the integration of between 2,500 and 3,700 migrants and refugees into the Finnish labour market, through the provision of training and job-matching assistance. The announcement of the scheme precedes Kehitysvammaisten Palvelusäätiö (KVPS) and EASPD’s recent event, in Helsinki on 1st September, to discuss how the social services sector in Finland can take advantage of financial instruments such as EFSI. The event was highly successful having been attended by guest speakers Gunnar Muent, the Director of the Innovation and Competitiveness at the European Investment Bank and Jussi Nykänen, a partner at Epiqus in Finland. Some of the event's supporting material can be found here. The event will be followed by another, on the 27th November in Brussels, where it is hoped that we can continue to raise awareness of the potential benefits of the European Fund for Strategic Investment for social services. Click here for the European Commission’s Press Release on the announcement      

EFSI supports the construction of 2,198 rental social housing units in Barcelona

The provision of a €125 million loan, by the European Investment Bank (EIB), to the to the Barcelona Municipal Housing Board (a public entity under the responsibility of the City Government), will facilitate the construction of 2,198 homes for public rental and low-income households in Barcelona. Supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the agreement will finance up to 50% of the total cost to construct 23 new housing developments in eight districts of Barcelona: Eixample, Nous Barris, Sant Andreu, Sants-Montjuïc, Sant Martí, Gracia, Sarrià-Sant Gervais and Horta-Guinardó. These housing developments will be used to meet the demand for social housing from middle or low-income households. Furthermore 585 of these new homes will be reserved for those over the age of 65 with limited means and equipped for people with limited mobility. This project joins similar projects, to expand or improve rented social housing, recently supported by the EIB in Amsterdam, Dublin and Lisbon. The support of EFSI was crucial in finalising the agreement and transferring EIB’s favourable financing conditions to the final beneficiaries. As a result, occupants will have access to a new home while paying rent at below the market rate. Speaking at the signing ceremony on the 21st July, European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "This agreement is a clear signal that the Investment Plan is not only providing an important boost to jobs and growth across Europe, but can also help deliver projects which reap high social benefits. I am delighted that the Investment Plan is facilitating access to high-quality, affordable homes for thousands of families in Barcelona. This shows how the EU can have a real, positive impact on the daily lives of European citizens." To find out more you can read the EIB's article on the subject here.

EU investment plan for the social sector: succesful events in Paris, Dublin and Vienna

Over the past months EASPD, with the help of its partners and members, has co-organised a number of national events on the EU Investment Plan and EFSI. As part of our drive, to promote the EU Investment Plan and its potential benefits for the funding of Social Services Luk Zelderloo, our Secretary-General and Thomas Bignal our Investment Policy Advisor have participated in seminars in Paris, Dublin and Vienna. Paris: On the 14th June 2017, our member, the umbrella organisation NEXEM, hosted the seminar "Accessing better loans through the EU Investment Plan" . The seminar brought together 200 representatives of member organisations of NEXEM. Speakers in the event included representatives from EASPD and NEXEM as well as Mme Elodie de Recy, Head of the European Investment Bank's Paris office; Mr Dimitrios Niafas from the European Commission; Mr Dirk Coeckelbergh, Investment Expert and Author and Mr Laurent Zylberberg, Director for Public Affairs and International Cooperation for the financial institution Caisse des Dépôts Group. Dublin: On the 19th June, Ireland turned host and our next seminar was held in Dublin. Organised by the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies and EASPD, the seminar saw key representatives of Social Services come together at the Ashling hotel. Speakers included representatives from EASPD and the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies; Mr Christy Lynch, CEO of KARE. Ms Dana Burduja, Senior Health Economist from European Investment Bank; Mr Brian Murphy, Head of Planning, Primary Care, Health Service Executive and Dr Donal Macmanus, CEO, Irish Council of Social Housing. Vienna Vienna was the stage for the third seminar on the 3rd July. The event was organised in cooperation with Sozialwirtschaft Osterreich and the Erste Bank. Speakers included representatives of both organisations who were joined by Mr Martin Brunkhorst, Head of European Investment Bank's Vienna Office; and Mr Martin Weber, Head of Products for Large-volume residential construction, Erste Bank. These seminars will be conclude with a final conference in Brussels on the 27th November. The event, “EU Investment Plan: Investing in Social Care & Support” will be organised together with the European Policy Centre. European and national stakeholders are due to attended and confirmed speakers include Ms Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs and Mr Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Policy Centre and President Emeritus of the European Council. To view the Conference’s full programme, click here, and to register, click here.