October 11, 2021 | 14:30  – 16:00  (CET Time)
Language: English

Topic: ‘Owning Our Europe’:  Social work and the futures of Europe

Jiri Svarc, Head of Unit, EU Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, EMPL.D.1: Social Policies, Child Guarantee, Social Protection Committee
Alfonso Lara-Montero – CEO European Social Network 
John Brennan – Vice president IFSW Europe

Since 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) is the formal overarching ‘social’ framework for the EU in the next decade and the EU Commission’s Social Pillar Action Plan launched in March 2021 aims to implement it.    The Covid-19 crisis intervened and has shaped the EU’s immediate programme which necessitated introducing the Recovery and Resilience Facility mechanism, to provide funds to national governments to help rebuild their economies and social structures. 

The title of this symposium is inspired by the Conference on the Future of Europe.  The EU Commission’s  Conference is a consultation mechanism to allow the citizens of Europe to have their voices heard on these and other issues.

Unemployment, Poverty, Low incomes, Homelessness and Housing, Long-Term Care, Migration, Access to Essential Services and now Covid-19 are among the key topics to be considered in demanding the kind of future that we want for Europe – a Europe where no one is left behind.  The Social Pillar Action Plan has three headline targets – Employment, Education & Skills and Poverty Reduction.  EU Member States have now published their National Resilience and Recovery Plans to address these issues.  These plans will set the specific agenda and priorities in each country.  It is here that the IFSW Europe member organisations can play their part at a local level.

‘Owning our Europe’ alludes to the fact that these issues affect not only those who use our services, but also, we ourselves as citizens and professional service providers.  It is our Europe that we wish to improve by our work.  We face many challenges, but also opportunities.  There are many possibilities for Europe’s future depending on the decisions that are made in the coming days and months.  Social workers play key roles in social services in engaging with those who are most marginalised in our societies and who are most at risk if the correct decisions are not made.

IFSW Europe is a large organization spanning the continent as a whole.  It is essential therefore that we find ways to contribute to these topics which will define our lives and those of the people we work with.

Mr Jiri Svarc from the EU Commission and Mr Alfonso Montero from the European Social Network will participate in the Symposium to explore the theme, help us define where  social work stands in this atmosphere and what we can do / what do we want to do, both as (i) a Federation in Europe and (ii) at the national level in engaging meaningfully in achieving Pillar goals.