“Building Social Europe”, Flagship conference by Social Platform

 

Message by Social Platform President

Dear friends,

I am delighted to present our first official conference mailing and to invite you to the Social Platform’s “Building Social Europe” conference which will take place on 29-30 November in Lisbon and which is organised in cooperation with the government of Portugal.

The purpose of this conference is to mark the one year anniversary since the Proclamation of the EU’s Pillar of Social Rights – an important milestone in shifting the compass of the EU towards being more social and inclusive.

We want to ensure that our conference is a platform not just to debate but also translate the commitments in the European Pillar of Social Rights and in the Sustainable Development Goals into tangible political goals, given upcoming European elections and the institutional transitions in 2019.

We aim to welcome around 80 participants equally representing our membership at European and national level. Besides our membership, we aim to engage EU and national decision makers, social partners, civil society organisations, and academics.

The conference offers two panel debates with participation of high level speakers, three workshops, numerous study visits and meetings with the local projects in Portugal, “Made in Social Europe” exhibition of practices from across our membership, and also a chance to discover the charm and beautify of Lisbon.

I very much hope many of you and other representatives of your organisations will come to Lisbon with us to what is promising to be a lively, stimulating conference!

Jana Hainsworth, President of the Social Platform 

 

Introduction and background

On 17th November 2017, Social Platform delegation at the Social Summit in Gothenburg launched a strong call to Heads of States and Government for reviving the European Union to regain people’s trust by prioritising tackling inequalities, delivering a strong social agenda that goes beyond employment and partnering with organised civil society to leave no one behind.

This took place in the framework of the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which underscored the united political commitment of Europe’s leaders to realise a truly socially and economically just Europe, based on a new instrument that we contributed to shape from the initial launch of the initiative until its final adoption.

Following years of distrusts and inaction, this has been welcome as a new window of opportunity that has the potential to bring about the necessary policy changes to make Europe more social.  A meaningful implementation of the Pillar would not only be an opportunity for the political establishment to regain people’s trust by showing that the EU brings real added value to their daily lives, but would also respond to people’s expectations: a November 2017 Eurobarometer survey found that 45% of Europeans want social equality and solidarity to be emphasised in the face of major global challenges.

While the European Union is slowly coming out of the financial and economic crisis that shook it to its core a decade ago, it continues to face challenges on its march towards achieving socio-economic justice for all its 500 million plus inhabitants.

That is why we want to combine discussions on the implementation of the Pillar with those concerning some of the most pressing challenges of our time: inequality and sustainability.

We will do this taking into account the upcoming European elections, ongoing discussions on the future of Europe and the next multi-annual financial framework, and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which are just three areas where the argument for a broader EU social agenda can gain real traction, beyond employment.

The first panel will look at inequalities in Europe, discussing the state of art, the main drivers behind recent trends and the necessary measures to address inequalities, with a specific attention to the packages of new tools following the proclamation of the Social Pillar.

The second panel will have a more forward looking angle and will look at solutions to rebalance social, economic and environmental objectives to build a Europe that is inclusive, fair and sustainable for all.

High level speakers from academia, EU and national decision makers, social partners and civil society will take part in both panels.

The three parallel workshops will discuss the role of and the tools available to civil society to promote progress on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the construction of a more social Europe.

During the conference we will display the “Made in Social Europe” photo exhibition showcasing projects that civil society organisations from across our membership are already delivering on the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights on local and national level.

 

Location

Our event will take place at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation: Av. de Berna, 45 A, 1067  001 Lisbon, Portugal

Provisional programme

28 November – Wednesday (only for Social Platform members)

Time Event Location
  Arrivals  
18:00 – 20:00 Lisbon tour Lisbon city
20:00 Networking meeting tbc

 

29 November – Thursday

Time Event Location
09:00 – 13:00 Projects visits/meetings Local projects
13:00 – 14:00 Registration & light snack lunch Conference venue: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation: Av. de Berna, 45 A, 1067  001 Lisbon, Portugal
14:00 – 14:45 Welcome and introduction

 

Jana Hainsworth, President of Social Platform

Representatives of EU institutions and Portuguese government

Conference venue
14:45 – 16:15 Panel 1 – Inequalities in Europe: will the Social Pillar deliver on its promises?  
Key note speech, panel discussion, Q&A
Conference venue
16:15 – 16:45 Break Conference venue
16:45 – 18:00 Panel 2 – Towards the next decade: How to build a Europe that is inclusive, fair and sustainable for all?
Panel discussion, Q&A
Conference venue
18:00 – 18:15 Concluding remarks Conference venue
19:30 – 22:00 Dinner & Exhibition opening Tbc (hosted by Government of Portugal)

 

30 November – Friday

Time Event Location
09:30 – 11:30 Parallel workshops:

 

–          The new EU investment plan: what is in for the social sector?

–          A non-binding Pillar of Social Rights: how to use legal frameworks for its implementation?

–          Involving civil society in EU semester process: challenges and opportunities?

Conference venue
11:30 – 12:00 break Conference venue
12:00 – 13:00 Plenary :

 

–          Workshops reporting

–          Conference closing

Conference venue
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Conference venue
14:00 Departures  

 

Panel descriptions

Panel 1 – Inequalities in Europe: will the Social Pillar deliver on its promises?             

The inequality debate has reignited during the economic crisis and while Europe is slowly recovering from it, the data, research and lives experiences of citizens clearly show that the EU suffers from significant inequality and poverty.  Despite that, the EU does not have a systematic and explicit strategy to fight against inequalities and the Europe 2020 Strategy has a poverty target that is failing attaining. However in the complex framework of EU policies and instruments, tools exist that might help reducing poverty and inequalities and the Proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights has created a momentum for change.

In this context, the panel will debate questions related to drivers of inequalities and tools to address it; ability of the current EU policy framework to fight inequalities; possible complementary or alternative solutions; opportunities and challenges to face in order to bring these elements into the democratic debate.

Panel 2 – Towards the next decade: How to build a Europe that is inclusive, fair and sustainable for all?

As the Europe2020 strategy to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth is set to expire and a successor strategy yet to emerge, this session will explore how a future sustainable Europe needs to be shaped to deliver well-being, social and economic progress for present and future generations. In a highly interdependent world, the Sustainable Development Goals recognise the necessity to navigate complexity and increase synergies between the different goals to ensure that ‘no one is left behind’ within planetary boundaries. The European Pillar of Social Rights is an example of an EU initiative with strong potential to drive and reinforce many SDGs, by working towards full inclusion, fair working conditions and equal opportunities for all.  To deliver concrete and visible results for people, the economy and the environment, constructive partnerships that involve civil society in all its diversity are both precondition and a key driving force to achieve the Goals.

In this context, the panel will debate questions related to the need to rebalance social, economic and environmental objectives and the ability of the current EU policy framework to take up the challenge; aspiration versus political feasibility for a reform of the European governance model for sustainability; transparency, accountability and civic participation as key enablers for a more sustainable future.

 

Workshops

The three parallel workshops will discuss the role of and the tools available to civil society to promote progress on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the construction of a more social Europe.

The focus will be on the three main axes underpinning our policy and advocacy work: legal instruments, social and economic governance and funding.

This exercise will allow participants to exchange views and members to shape ideas, strengthen synergies with other organisations and test the proposals via interactive discussions with stakeholders from EU institutions, member states and other partners.

 

Registration

Registration will open very soon!