Event report release: The EU Investment Plan - Investing in social care and support

Following our joint conference with the European Policy Centre (EPC), on the EU Investment Plan and investing in social care and support, the EPC has published its event report, detailing the discussions and the conclusions of the day. The event brought together key social, investment and institutional decision-makers to explore how the European Union and its investment programme can help to unlock funds that can finance quality social care for all and support the EU’s increasing social dimension. During the event Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General of the EASPD, presented EASPD’s recommendations to increase private investment in the social sector. These recommendations include the call for the creation of a European Strategy for Quality Social Infrastructure which would: Set up a European Fund for Social Infrastructure Development (EFSID) which would use €5 billion of EU/EIB to help unlock €25 billion investment into social infrastructure. Set up a High Level Taskforce for Quality Social Infrastructure to build European minimum standards and recommend policy frameworks; support and advise the development of quality projects and coordinate the Social Investment Councils. Create national/regional Social Investment Councils in each member state to build pipeline of bankable quality projects. Support a European Social Investment Data Collection body Key speakers at the event included Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Policy Centre and President Emeritus of the European Council; Jose Manuel Fernandes, Member of the European Parliament and Zoltan Kazatsay, Deputy Director-General, DG Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, European Commission. To find out more about what they said, on what can be done to unlock investment in social infrastructure and read the full report please click here.

The Multiannual Financial Framework and the social agenda

Oliver Dreute, Advisor on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the European Commission’s European Political Strategy Centre, speaks out on how the next Multiannual Financial Framework can provide a more social Europe for all. In an article written for the European Political Strategy Centre Dreute identifies the three key areas the future EU budget should target in order to have a meaningful impact on jobs, fairness and social inclusion: Investing Dreute argues that a major focus of EU spending should be on securing growth and employment by fostering innovation and the dissemination of innovative knowledge. Dreute continues that the best social policy is one that fosters optimum education and training, as well as securing and creating stable jobs with decent working conditions. Caring Although social support is primarily the responsibility of Member States, Dreute believes that the EU budget could complement their work through supporting social innovation and social projects, supporting skills development, labour market integration projects and the fight against poverty. Securing In his final key area of action Dreute asserts that, rather than tackling acute problems with tools created on an ad hoc basis, future EU funding of emergency measures should target macroeconomic stabilisation and be based on a sufficient budgetary reserve. In addition to this Dreute suggests consideration for the development of a European Unemployment Insurance Scheme. To read the full article of Dreute’s recommendations please click here.

PRESS RELEASE: Europe needs a Social Infrastructure Agenda, say social services AND investors.

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) launched earlier this week its latest report “Investing in Social Care and Support, a European Imperative” in a Conference organised with the European Policy Centre. The message was clear: the European Union must develop a European Strategy for Quality Social Infrastructure. The Strategy would include a fund dedicated to the needs of the social sectors, strengthen the capacity of social service providers and investors to build a pipeline of quality projects and support the exchange of quality social infrastructure investment standards. On Monday, 27th November, EASPD and EPC organised a High Level Conference on “the EU Investment Plan: investing in social care and support”, bringing together investors, social services, public authorities and policy-makers. The Conference aimed to address the current underinvestment into social care and support infrastructure throughout the European Union. Opening the Conference, Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council and President of EPC, stated that “Europe is poorly prepared to face the investment gap in social care and support” and called for “collective solutions to be developed”. In response, Jim Crowe, President of EASPD, called for the “creation of a European Strategy for Quality Social Infrastructure”, arguing that “quality and smart social services are both crucial to implementing at least 10 of the 20 principles in the European Pillar of Social Rights and to the creation of millions of new jobs in the coming decades”. Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD, presented the new report “Investing in Social Care and Support, a European Imperative” and suggested four priority actions to be included in the European Strategy: a Fund suited to the needs and specificities of the social sector; the development of local social investment platforms to develop a pipeline of viable investment projects; by helping to bundle smaller projects and blend ressources, including structural funds; A permanent European High Level Taskforce for Quality Social Infrastructure; to provide guidance, support and technical advice to the local platforms and to the European institutions; a European social investment data collection body; to better track and assess the trends and needs in terms of human capital development, the provision of quality care and support services and the funding of the sector. Leaders of the social services sector from six EU member states (Finland, Ireland, France, Austria, Belgium, Spain) highlighted the negative impact of austerity on their activities and the crucial need for additional public investment into the sector in order to better prepare for the disruptive transformations to Europe: demographic challenges, growing inequalities, high unemployment and the digital revolution. They also highlighted the challenges they face in accessing private investment; yet also agreed on the positive impact improved access to decent loans could have in achieving their objectives; for instance, in better rolling out digital platforms, supporting the de-institutionalisation process or the improved training of staff. The Conference also included the opportunity to present the work of the High-Level Taskforce on Social Infrastructure, chaired by Romano Prodi, and its report on “Boosting investments in social infrastructure in Europe”, authored by Lieve Fransen, Gino Bel Bufalo and Edoardo Reviglio. Helmut von Glasenapp, Secretary General of the European Long-Term Investors association, presented the report, called for the launch of a “European Social Infrastructure Agenda to help fill the current investment gap estimated at 100-150 billion per year in the European Union. As an active member of the High-level Taskforce, EASPD welcomes the recommendations made in the report. EASPD will continue to actively promote a European Strategy for Quality Social Infrastructure at European level with interested partners, as well as at local level with national events in at least 10 EU Member States. The European Policy Centre will soon publish a Conference report. For more information, please continue to monitor Related documents EASPD Report: “Investing in Social Care and Support, a European Imperative” (November 2017) EASPD Press Release in PDF Event Presentation: Luk Zelderloo "EASPD’s recommendations for investing in social care and support" Event Presentation: Brian Murphy “EU INVESTMENT PLAN AND SOCIAL INVESTMENT” Event Presentation: Jussi Nykänen “Social Impact Bond for Employment of Refugees and Immigrants” Event Presentation: Günter Benischek “Social Banking at Erste Bank” Event Presentation: Sabina Lobato “The investment needs of Social Services in Spain”   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 15,000 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 UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.

EIB supports SMEs and youth employment in Croatia

In Croatia, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR – Hrvatska banka za obnovu i razvitak) have signed a credit line agreement for €250 million which will help to improve the employment levels of young people, under the age of 30. The investment is the first instalment of a larger, €800m lending framework which will support investment in small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and municipalities. Alongside this credit line and lending framework the EIB’s Investing for Youth initiative is offering additional support to final beneficiaries who demonstrate that their investment project has contributed to the creation of jobs for young people. The credit line and the EIB’s initiative will support young people in a labour market where there is a constant unemployment rate of 30%. Speaking at HBOR’s International Conference on the 6th November, where the credit-line agreement was announced, EIB Vice-President Vazil Hudák presented the advantages of special financial instruments that could be successfully applied in across Europe. These instruments include the SME Initiative, which has combined resources from the European Union and the EIB Group (the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund), to encourage SME financing. Together the resources encourage SME funding by providing partial risk cover to SME loan portfolios of originating financial institutions. The SME initiative has already been of benefit in countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and Spain. Another financial opportunity is provided by Investment Platforms under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), a strand of the Investment Plan for Europe. These Investment Platforms promote co-investment arrangements to catalyse investments in a variety of different sectors. More information on EIB investment in Croatia can be found in the EIB press release on the agreement here.

Boosting Investment in Social Infrastructures

On 10th October, as a part of ‘European Week of Regions and Cities,’ the European Committee of the Regions hosted a conference on investment in social infrastructure. The event: ‘Boosting Investment in Social Infrastructures,’ included a presentation by Thomas Bignal, EASPD’s own Investment Policy Advisor. He was joined by Lieve Fransen, Social Health Policy Advisor and Member of the High Level Task Force on Social Infrastructures; Giorgo Chiaron Casoni, Head of ‘Financing of climate change, Infrastructure polices and Euratom’ at DG ECFIN; Poala Stefania Demont, Director of Social Housing at CDP Investimenti Sgr and Jean-Paul Clément, Director General at ADOMA. The event was well attended and together the panel contributed key comments on boosting investment in social infrastructures: Current social infrastructure investment gap: Lieve Fransen provided advice on how to finance social infrastructure and maximise public value. In her overview of the current investment in social infrastructure she asserted that roughly €75 billion is invested annually in health and long-term care in the EU. This figure forms part of the €200 billion invested annually in social infrastructure, which includes affordable housing, education and lifelong learning. An investment gap remains however and there is a need for at least €350 billion to be invested in social infrastructure yearly. These figures mean that social infrastructure is currently experiencing a €150 billion investment gap. To combat the issue Dr Fransen recommended the development and promotion of “bankable and investment-ready social infrastructure project pipelines;” enhancing the respective roles of promotional banks and the public sector as well as establishing a stable and investment-friendly environment in which social infrastructure can flourish. Social infrastructure is under represented in EU investment services: Giorgo Chiaron Casoni continued to raise the profile of EFSI within the social sector. After acknowledging that the social sector made up only 4% of all EFSI investments, Mr Casoni provided suggestions on improving the accessibility of EFSI projects. These suggestions included collaborating with National Promotional Banks; considering the opportunities provided by Public-Private Partnerships; the enhancement of EFSI advertising initiatives and the use of advisory services to aid the structuring of projects. EASPD is helping to unlock investment into social services: Thomas Bignal provided a presentation on the task of unlocking investment in social services specifically. After highlighting the investment needs and current problems with investment in the sector, Mr Bignal identified potential solutions which can help to boost investment in the social sector. These solutions included the creation of ‘Social Impact Hubs’ throughout Europe. These ‘hubs’ would be national or regional platforms which help to unite the social sector, investors, public authorities and national promotion banks to coordinate the increased funding of the social sector. The creation of these ‘hubs’ will hopefully help to build partnerships, improve communicating as well as build capacity and training opportunities for the sectors. Finally, Mr Bignal also suggested the creation of a new European Fund with a lower threshold, to increase its accessi to loans for social servies. The focus on unlocking investment for the social sector will be continued at EASPD’s next event on 27th November. The conference: ‘EU Investment Plan: Investing in Social Care and Support’ will be hosted jointly with the European Policy Centre. Speakers will include Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Mobility; Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Policy Centre and President Emeritus of the European Council; Iliyana Tsanova, Deputy Managing Director of the European Fund for Strategic Investments and James Crowe, President of EASPD. A programme for the event can be found here and you can register here.