Report on roundtable discussions in the European Parliament on 1st December 2016: outcomes and video recording.

Building on the Promise of European Structural & Investment Funds into the Future
facebook_squareEuropean Parliament in Brussels, Belgium
1st December 2016
Hosted by Mairead McGuinness, Vice President of the European Parliament.

The roundtable looked at good practices, issues and challenges linked to the implementation of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) regulations in the transition from institutional care to community based living. It aimed to provide input on the need for improving practice under the existing regulations as well as how this underlying legislative framework might be improved in the next programming period (2021-2028) to underpin more effective outcomes.

Watch the full roundtable discussions:

Full report from the roundtable discussion is available to download here.

Some key messages from the discussion:
  • Clear message of political will from Vice President Mairead McGuinness for the transition to community living.
  • Institutionalisation is a fundamental human rights issue experienced across all EU Member States.
  • Deinstitutionalisation (DI) is about turning people and children from commodities back into rights holders.
  • When thinking about and planning the transition to community living we need to return to the basics; the concept of home is central.
  • The best instrument we have to tackle institutionalisation in Europe is money. Used well, the ESIF have the potential to transform the way in which governments and communities think about, act and involve all members of our society. 
  • There are problems with implementing the ESIF regulations, all stakeholders must reflect and learn from these issues together into the future and improve practice to bring about better outcomes.
From left: Professor Gerard Quinn, Michael O’Flaherty, Georgette Mulheir (Chair), Mairead McGuinness (VP, MEP) and Marie-Anne Paraskevas.
Some key issues and challenges in implementation:
  • Practical implementation of Operational Programmes, in particular problems with Member State calls for proposals for DI projects co-financed by the ERDF. 
  • Implementation of the ex ante conditionality on social inclusion;

– DI strategies are isolated from structural reform efforts in health and social care;

– DI strategies do not correspond to the vision and goal of community living for all;

– Poor quality of DI measures in national strategies.

  • Needs assessments and data collection are lacking.
  • Small Group Homes are not a solution, the same institutional culture remains.
  • Lack of capacity of relevant civil society to participate in planning, implementation and monitoring.
  • Complementary use of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).  There is a focus on building (ERDF) to the neglect of ‘soft measures’ such as re-training and training of staff, independent living skills, personalised transition plans, family and community based support services (ESF).
  • Institutionalisation is a horizontal issue across Europe, not only Eastern and Central European Member States. 
From left: Jamie Bolling, Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Georgette Mulheir (Chair), Johan Ten Geuzendam, Luk Zelderloo and Dani Koleva.
Looking to the Future:
  • We must avoid parallel systems and work for an intersectional approach toward DI and the inclusion of all groups experiencing social exclusion and poverty.
  • More concrete reference to the objectives and desired outcomes of DI should be built into European Commission Guidance on the use of ESIF for DI.
  • There should be monitoring and systemic collection of data at all levels on implementation and progress toward DI.
  • Building of trust and partnership at National and EU levels to improve cooperation and coordination of all actors that bring about change. The ESIF Monitoring Committees are important here – they do not work for several reasons firstly there are too many members (in some cases 100-200 members) to coordinate effectively and secondly the information received is too complex to be able to understand.
  • Continue and enhance communication on issues and challenges in the implementation of the ESIF regulations between EU level organisations and the European Commission.
  • Capacity building of relevant civil society organisations at national and local level.
  • Operational Programmes should include a simple and easy to understand roadmap for DI with specific milestones for each year that are based on identified local needs.
  • Private sector investment must follow human rights and equality standards.
  • More staff trained in person centered care and the human rights based approach to ensure the right to community living and social connectedness of older persons.  

Advice and guidance for EU and national civil society organisations working on deinstitutionalisation into the future:

  • Harness and use the power of the European Parliament – make your Member(s) of the European Parliament aware of how the funds are being spent and the progress towards DI in your country.
  • Work together for common shared goals of community and family living.
  • Be aware of the risks and opportunities of new instruments such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the Structural Reform Support Programme and the High Level Group on Simplification as well as ongoing influencing factors such as; the size of the Cohesion Policy budget and ongoing discussions on the next round of regulations (2021-2028) between the European Commission and the European Parliament.
  • Developing narratives and a coordinated message to achieve DI:
  1. The development of inclusive communities and DI are relevant and a priority within macroeconomic thinking (The European Semester).

2. ‘Back to basics’. It is about peoples’ lives and peoples right to live independently in the community and in their family – the concept of home must be at the centre of planning and implementation.

3. Positive language. We need to advocate for what is needed and what should be funded to achieve community and family living.  Provide solutions and best practice examples to governments on DI. 

  • Learn from and include all groups affected by institutionalisation.
  • Identify game changers in your country such as; Legal Capacity, accessibility and mechanisms to re-route public funding such as personalised budgets.
  • challenge and help explicitly Human Rights tasked institutions at the national level such as National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Equality bodies and Human Rights Commissions to become more active and engage in the use of ESIF to tackle institutionalisation.
Information sources
– Find the Agenda and Background note for the discussions here.
– Report on the outcomes, key points and national level experiences shared at the roundtable is available to download here.
Image: Participants and speakers in the European Parliament before the start of the roundtable.
From left: Natasa Kokic, Georgette Mulheir (Chair), Marie-Anne Paraskevas and Andor Urmos.
Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency.
Marie-Anne Paraskevas, Senior Policy Officer, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.



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