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The European Semester 2013: Evaluation and Recommendations

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Eurodiaconia is supported under the European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (2007-2013). Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Commission. Eurodiaconia is a federation of organisations, institutions and churches providing social and health services and education on a Christian value base throughout Europe. Eurodiaconia is registered as an AISBL in Belgium.


An Assessment of the 2013 European Semester Why this assessment? As a Europe wide network of social services providers and social justice actors Eurodiaconia takes engagement in the European Semester very seriously. As service providers and social advocates our members offer very practical support to people at risk of poverty and social exclusion, but they are also involved in advocacy and policy shaping at national, regional and local level. They have been involved in the European Semester since its beginning and have experienced its functioning. Today, they recognise that the European Semester has achievements as well as some shortcomings. This experience from our members is both encouraging and challenging. It is encouraging because they look to participate and are active in sharing their expertise to contribute to policy making and social change. However it is also challenging because their enthusiasm and hope is fading due to the weaknesses in the participation of stakeholders in the process in Member States. Without a clear commitment to the policy targets of Europe 2020 in the Annual Growth Survey, a rebalancing between social and economic policy in favour of those that support social cohesion as well as economic growth and participatory processes to design, implement and evaluate the actions needed to achieve them at national, regional and local levels the European Semester will not be the ambitious and coherent policy process envisaged. To ensure the European Semester is an ambitious and coherent policy process as envisaged many changes must be made. A clear commitment to the policy targets of Europe 2020 in the Annual Growth Survey, a rebalancing between social and economic policy in favour of policies that support social cohesion as well as economic growth and participatory processes to design, implement and evaluate the actions needed to achieve the targets at national, regional and local levels are essential. Furthermore, both the National Reform Programmes and the Country Specific Recommendations need to continue to be focused, specific and relevant to the social context in each Member State. CSRs must be coherent in their approach to economic growth and social well-being and respond to the reality our members witness on a day to day basis. This document will first present our key messages and recommendations based on the contributions from Eurodiaconia members’ experience of the European Semester process. The second part of this document presents specific responses members gave to the questions posed to them and shares their experience and suggestions. We hope that as we look towards the European Semester 2014 that the experiences and suggestions from or members will be taken into account by the European Commission, European Parliament, Member States and other stakeholders.

Eurodiaconia October 2013 www.eurodiaconia.org

Eurodiaconia is supported under the European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (2007-2013). Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Commission. Eurodiaconia is a federation of organisations, institutions and churches providing social and health services and education on a Christian value base throughout Europe. Eurodiaconia is registered as an AISBL in Belgium.

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Executive summary Key messages 

National Reform Programs present some useful instruments for achieving the poverty target (Sweden, Romania, Denmark, Netherlands) but the overall poverty reduction strategy is too employment focused, thereby excluding the most vulnerable people from the poverty reduction process and reinforcing social polarization (Sweden, Netherland, Denmark, Germany).

National Reform Programs are assessed as having such a strong focus on economic growth and employment (Germany, Denmark) that they miss a wider analysis of the causes of poverty (Netherlands). NRPs have also been analyzed as being unrealistic (too ambitious – Czech Republic) or ineffective either due to the socioeconomic context (Romania) or the political context (Italy). Only Eurodiaconia’s Finnish organization believes its NRP to be “good and balanced.”

Regarding the National Reform Programs’ positive measures, members have particularly highlighted good policy examples of labour market integration and education related measures, as well as debt-reduction and housing policies. However, members have also underlined that these positive measures are insufficient by themselves and have underlined the absence of necessary measures to tackle existing social challenges such as job creation strategies for the 50+ in the Netherlands, instruments for the long-term unemployed in Germany, the situation of children affected by intra-EU mobility in Romania, low income families with children in Finland.

Reported signs of improvement in stakeholders’ involvement for some members states are encouraging, but must not hide the worsening of the process in other countries (Austria, Netherlands). Some Eurodiaconia members have been particularly disappointed by the lack of open and significant dialogue. Most Eurodiaconia members request a more open and meaningful process of involvement as it would reinforce policy ownership and contribute to legitimize the European Semester process. To improve stakeholders’ participation, members propose establishing a guiding framework for institutionalized cooperation and debate, involving actors from different backgrounds and across sectors. Our German members suggest that these debates should be managed by an independent moderator, and that the key points emphasized by stakeholders and not taken up by public authorities should have to be justified.

For most organizations, the Country Specific Recommendations are coherent, as they are in line with the overall thinking of the European Commission, but lack a poverty reduction perspective. CSRs are similar to 2012 or have improved in being more detailed, concrete and more appropriate to the national context. However, they respond too often only to macro-economic trends so a broader approach including social inclusion and more adapted to the varying national social contexts is needed.

Eurodiaconia is supported under the European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (2007-2013). Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Commission. Eurodiaconia is a federation of organisations, institutions and churches providing social and health services and education on a Christian value base throughout Europe. Eurodiaconia is registered as an AISBL in Belgium.

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Our Recommendations 1. Keep the Europe 2020 strategy and all its related targets as the priority objective of the European Semester. The overall European Semester process must keep aiming to implement the Europe 2020 objectives and agreed targets, focusing on inclusive and sustainable growth which must include poverty reduction. It is therefore a key instrument for social inclusion and to restore people’s trust in the European Union. 2. Reinforce stakeholders’ policy ownership through stronger incentive mechanisms for Member States to involve key social stakeholders, and to recognize and support the value and role of not-forprofit social services as essential instruments to build social cohesion. The European Commission could propose guidelines for ways to develop an institutionalized model of stakeholder engagement at national level. 3. Broaden the focus of the Annual Growth Survey 2014 from the narrow employment and economic growth focus (as seen in the 2013 AGS), to call for inclusive growth and seek to develop a well-being and social cohesion approach. Concretely, this will mean calling on Member States to give evidence of their actions towards the delivery of social inclusion objectives. Social inclusion strategies must address in-work poverty and support people furthest away from the labour market. 4. Following the recent European Commission efforts to reinforce the social dimension of the economic and monetary union and monitor progress on the Europe 2020 social objectives though the joint assessment framework, the Commission should acknowledge the Social Market Economy as an overarching goal guiding policy decisions where the economy is at the service of people, rather than people being at the service of the economy. Tangible expressions of this political acknowledgement would be to add supportive trigger mechanisms to the social scoreboard proposed by the communication on the social dimension of the EMU for the tools to move beyond its limited analytical purposes. Divergence of social indicators identified in the MIP should trigger the need for a member state to develop a corrective action plan. 5. Following on from the Social Investment Package, the AGS 2014 must now specifically urge member states to support and invest in social services. The 2014 AGS must emphasise the potential of social and health services for economic growth, job creation and retention as well as the contribution they make to the overall wellbeing of society. 6. Accompany current policy efforts such as those referred to in the 2013 AGS to reform employment legislation and develop supportive, flexible working arrangements by a renewed political commitment to Active Inclusion. This can be done through stepping up policy efforts to ensure accessible quality social services and a guaranteed adequate income and for all (starting with comparative reference budgeting).

Eurodiaconia is supported under the European Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (2007-2013). Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Commission. Eurodiaconia is a federation of organisations, institutions and churches providing social and health services and education on a Christian value base throughout Europe. Eurodiaconia is registered as an AISBL in Belgium.

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Our Analysis of the European Semester 2013 Introduction This overview of members experience of the European Semester is based on data collected through an online survey between June and September 2013. The Eurodiaconia secretariat received input from members involved in the European Semester process at National level, providing their assessment of the 2013 European Semester. The analysis has been divided into four sections for ease of reading: 1) 2) 3) 4)

Achievement of the poverty target The National Reform Programs How Can Stakeholders Participation be improved? Country Specific Recommendations

And in each section the questions asked in the survey and a summary of the findings can be found as well as comments from members to support their opinions.

Achievement of the poverty target  

Do you think your government is taking the necessary steps toward the achievement of the national poverty target? Do you believe your NRP presents useful instruments for achieving the poverty targets?

The main points coming from members are that yes, the NRP presents some useful instruments for achieving the poverty target (Sweden, Romania, Denmark, Netherlands) but the overall poverty reduction strategy is too employment focused, hereby excluding the most vulnerable people from the poverty reduction process and reinforcing social polarisation (Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany).

O U R M E M B E R S S AY … Church of Sweden: “We have criticized the poverty target and the contents in the NRP. The Swedish government poverty target is linked to employment, which excludes people that not are in a condition to work. We see for example that the income inequality is increasing in Sweden. It has been more difficult to manage for those with lowest incomes, and it also affects children. In the same time I have to be fair and say that the government has made some changes to improve the situation for those depending on benefits, but it´s not enough. The level of benefits from the municipalities has increased and a “leisure coin” for families on benefits will be introduced. This money shall go to family costs for children participation in sports and so on. It’s 300 euro per child and year. Still a lot of people turn to churches and ask for economic help.” Diakonie Deutschland: “The government has already achieved its target because it's very un-ambitious and only considers the reduction of long-term unemployment as a success in the combat of poverty. It doesn't pursue a comprehensive and overarching strategy to combat poverty taking into account the diverse societal faults which cause poverty. This lack of ambition is revealed by the quality of jobs offered to long-term unemployed: atypical employments such as mini jobs, short-term jobs, badly paid jobs. This is not only working poor but also future elderly experiencing poverty. The NRP presents only a few instruments relevant for achieving the poverty targets and they are mostly very general. It picks up special target groups confronted with poverty: disadvantaged children and young people, migrants, people with disabilities, but the NRP points to the NSR where these instruments should be described.”

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Kofoeds Skole, Denmark: “No. The national target for poverty reduction is reduction by 22.000 people in households with low employment. This number is growing. Denmark has no other indicators. It is considered important to limit inequality. The government aims to reduce poverty and give special priority to socially disadvantaged children and young people and wants to create equal opportunities for everybody. However, the economic and labour market policies hamper achieving these goals and the fiscal and tax policy means growing inequality and poverty according to a new analysis. In general, the instruments are too narrow and too much focused on economy and employment. There are some useful measures to underpin social inclusion: education for youth, preventive measures for children and youth, social housing, programmes for a better integration and improvement of treatment for drug addicts. The government wants to be seen as a reform government. It means reduction in social services and stronger criteria for receiving social benefits for younger groups and fiscal restraint.” Christian Foundation Diakonia of the Reformed Church in Romania: “I cannot foresee changes in governmental policies, but it is necessary to invest much more in rural modernization, unemployment reduction, education and social/medical assistance to achieve EU 2020 targets. The EU fund absorption is not very good. Tertiary education target in group 30-34 and poverty reduction will be achieved, energy targets also, but early school leaving and proper investment in R&I hardly. Yes, half of the target (240000 reduction from 580000 target) is achieved already, to reduce further 340000 people in 7 years should be achievable.” Kerk in Actie, Netherlands: “There is now an increase of poverty and increase of people in debts. The government tries to do more for the people / children who are most affected by poverty. It provides more funding, but it's not enough because many people with a low income or lower benefit can't get jobs, so they have a bad position in our society and their situation is getting worse. Measures to bring people back to employment are not realistic because of the increasing unemployment.” Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF): “Many concrete measures are presented in the NRP in order to achieve the national poverty target under the challenging economic situation with macro-economic imbalances. Yes, there are several concrete instruments presented in the NRP, which are in line with the Government's strategic focus to reduce unemployment and inequality and prevent social exclusion.”

The National Reform Programs  

Which are the most important POSITIVE measures in the fight against poverty and social exclusion of your NRP? Which are the most important NEGATIVE measures in the fight against poverty and social exclusion of your NRP?

As to positive measures, members have particularly highlighted good policy examples of labour market integration and education related measures, debt-reduction and housing policies. But members have also underlined that these positive existing measures are insufficient by themselves. Regarding the negative measures, members have rather focused on either the absence of necessary measures to tackle existing concerning situations such as job creation strategies for the 50+ in the Netherlands, instruments for the long-term unemployed in Germany, the situation of children affected by EU migration in Romania and low income families with children in Finland.

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O U R M E M B E R S S AY … Diakonie Deutschland: “There is a good programme supporting single parents to integrate into the labour market. All other instruments for the integration of disadvantaged persons into the labour market are positive as such but they are not enough. They lack an integrated, comprehensive approach, are often only carried out as projects or don't consider connected difficulties people have such as the quality of work. The number of measures for the integration of long-term unemployed has been reduced, together with financial support.” Kofoeds Skole, Denmark: “Since the NRP was published, a governmental expert committee has published a report on a Danish poverty threshold. It is to be seen if this will mean a stronger focus on poverty reduction. There seems to be some good instruments in the report to focus attention on poverty reduction. Education has a clear priority as well as improving the employability of those at the margin of the labour market.” Kerk in Actie, Netherlands: “Positive measures: to take extra measures for specific groups such as children and people in debt and a new policy for an integrated debt approach. But these budgets are very low and curative rather than tackling the total problem. There isn’t a vision to address the growing gap between rich and poor people. The dominant goal to stimulate people to get work isn't combined with a plan to create jobs, especially for some risk groups such as people above 50.” Slezská Diakonie, Czech Republic: “Positive: strategy on homelessness, strategy for social housing (accessible accommodation for low income people) - if this will “come alive”. Negative: Roma integration in the Czech Republic as we can’t see any positive impact of the strategy yet.” Christian Foundation Diakonia, Romania: “Positive: enhancing minimum wage on economy, more public funds for social and health assistance in rural areas, a lot of after school programs for children with social problems, increasing investments in agriculture which help the numerous agriculture dependent population. We do not see negative measures but rather situations, facts such as the massive emigration, leaving at home hundred thousands of children and elderly alone, without support of active adults, predominantly quality of life in rural areas, and the low level of EU fund absorption which cannot substitute the historic lack of capital and public funds.” Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF): “Positive: employment-supporting reforms, such as the Youth Guarantee and promoting people with partial work ability. Measures to enhance the health, well-being and education of immigrants, with special focus on children, is also a positive measure. The current economic situation is a huge challenge. Concentration of poverty in certain areas is also a problem, as is the growing number of low-income families with children.”  

What is your overall impression of the NRP? Regarding the use of the structural funds in the NRP, do you agree with the following statement? Structural Funds (e.g. European Social Funds) have been used in the NRP to explicitly support the delivery on the poverty target

Members’ answers can be divided in two categories. On the one hand, some regret that NRPs focus on economic growth and employment (Germany, Denmark) and miss a wider analysis of the causes of poverty (Netherlands). On the other hand, members believe their NRP to be unrealistic (too ambitious – Czech Republic) or ineffective either due to the socio economical context (Romania) or the political context (Italy). Only ELCF (Finland) believes its NRP to be “good and balanced.” With regards to the use of the ESF there were no consistent views from members however Denmark felt that it was not being used to address poverty whereas our Czech member had the opposite opinion. Most other respondents did not have an opinion.

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O U R M E M B E R S S AY … Diakonie Deutschland: “It mainly deals with fiscal and economic developments in Germany, with a special view on the development of employment and unemployment.” Kofoeds Skole, Denmark: “The overall impression is that focus is the same as in previous reports. The economy, growth and employment are most important. The key objectives are to meet the recommendations of the Stability and Growth Pact and the Budget Law. The fiscal sustainability indicators must always be positive. The aims of the general policy are to ensure sustainable public finances, an increased labour supply, improve education, increase competition and strengthen stability in the housing market and the financial system.” Kerk in Actie, Netherlands: “A clear document but too theoretical, too far away from the reality of people in poverty. It misses a wider analysis of the causes of poverty and how to overcome poverty.” Slezská Diakonie, Czech Republic “It follows EU 2020 strategy, but it is a question as to how realistic the recommendations are. On the other side we need big goals. It is also a question what is the relation to the national budget - real spending x planned activities within NRP.” The Commissione Sinodale per la Diaconia, Italy: “The NRP document was published during the vacancy between the Monti Cabinet and the Letta Cabinet. Its effectiveness is then very low, because many changes happened from April till now in the government policy.” Christian Foundation Diakonia, Romania: “The government tries to face the challenges but the demographic changes (such as massive emigration of active population, 47% amount of rural, predominantly middle and older population), the share of digital illiteracy at 50% of society and public income damaging black market (25-28% of GDP) burden very much governmental tasks.” Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF): “Good and balanced”  

Please describe briefly your engagement with the NRP this year and the meaningfulness of the process In what ways could your participation be improved? Eurodiaconia members have regularly expressed concerns to the Eurodiaconia secretariat on the lack of meaningful involvement in the drafting of the NRPs. If the process is said to have improved for some members, the reality reported by other members reveals an erosion of the process with a remaining strong lack of significant stakeholders’ participation. In 2012-2013, only 3 members who responded to the survey had received a draft NRP and were invited to comment on it (Germany, Denmark, Netherlands). Members in the Czech Republic, Italy and Romania specifically stated they did not receive the draft NRP and with Austria and Sweden were not invited to comment on the NRP. Only 2 members believed that their comments, proposals or amendments were “somehow” taken into account in the final version (Germany, Netherlands). Only one member believed the process actually improved (Romania); 2 said it “somehow” improved (Germany, Denmark) ; and 3 considered it did not (Austria, Czech Republic, Netherlands).

O U R M E M B E R S S AY … Diakonie Österreich, Austria: “We had a huge problem regarding the involvement of Non for Profit Organisations (NPOs). It was not possible for NPOs to give input. We were not invited as Diakonie. Just two umbrella organisations were invited once to an information event to give input, but it was a lecture from the

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federal chancellery rather than a participative process. They were informed at the beginning that input would not be possible at this time (February). As Diakonie we officially urged the federal chancellery to change this situation as the NRP strictly demands the involvement of NPOs. The federal chancellery organised an event th on 20 June 2013, entitled "Involvement of civil society in the European Semester", which is ridiculous because we were not involved at all!“ The Church of Sweden: “We have not been involved in the dialogue with the Swedish government this time, but I have contact with some of the other organizations that have been. Still the main point of view is that we can´t call it a dialogue. The Swedish government is happy to include initiatives from NGOs in the NRP, meaning activities run by the organizations themselves that leads to fulfillment of the targets set by the government. But the government has the opinion that it´s the politicians that sets the policies. They want to listen to our view, but we have no role to estimate the measures.” Diakonie Deutschland: “The consultation by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs took place about 14 days after we received the first draft NRP 2013. It was an information meeting on how the process was being coordinated between the different Federal ministries and the Länder. There was one question about the content to which we contributed with input relating to poverty, inclusion, indicators etc. but there was no time for discussion. Later on we made some comments on the draft. However, there was too little time for well-prepared comments. The little meaningfulness of such a consultation results from 1.) no consultation of welfare organisations by the Federal Ministry of Economics (being responsible for ES/NRP), 2.) no consultation with civil servants in a meeting when the draft of the NRP is available, 3.) no relation in partnership between Ministries and NGOs because Ministries don't acknowledge NGOs as experts rather than some kind of utopians only calling for things that cause costs, 4.) no real discussions about the content of NRP. “ Kofoeds Skole, Denmark: “Social NGOs are members of the government's Contact Committee for regional and local authorities and interest organisations. We meet regularly but briefly about EU themes during the semester and can give statements to the government. The draft NRP was sent for consultation and discussed in a meeting.” Kerk in Actie, Netherlands: “In 2012 we gave our comments but did not see them reflected back in the NRP. In 2013 we decided as partner in the National Social Alliance Group not to react on the plans because we did not share the vision of the reality described in the NRP.” Slezská Diakonie, Czech Republic: “There was almost no engagement in the NRP process. We did not receive a draft NRP and we therefore couldn’t participate in the process. In previous years - with NAPSI - we participated in commenting the draft through national associations of service providers. Later, when the documents were put together into NRP, we did not have possibility to participate.” The Commissione Sinodale per la Diaconia, Italy: “We have not been involved in the process of National Reform Program.” Christian Foundation Diakonia, Romania: “As a member of the Consultative Council of by the State Recognized Churches in Romania I helped to elaborate a Memorandum, addressed to the Romanian Government, of the 17 recognized churches in the field of education, social and medical assistance.” ELCF, Finland has not per se been invited to comment on the NRP to the Ministry of Finance, which coordinates the process in Finland. However, as an expert member in the Sub-Committee for Social Affairs (a preparative committee, appointed by the Committee for EU Affairs, chaired by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health), ELCF has continuously been informed about the process and invited to participate in forming the position of the Ministry, which then was forwarded to the Ministry of Finance.

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How can stakeholders’ participation be improved? Members propose some form of institutionalized cooperation, involving actors from different backgrounds, across sector. This could be based on guidelines issued by the European Commission. Our German members suggest that these debates should be managed by an independent moderator, and that the key points emphasized by stakeholders and not taken up by public authorities should have to be justified. O U R M E M B E R S S AY … Diakonie Deutschland: “A Round Table with representatives of the Ministries, including the ministry of Economics, welfare organizations, other social NGOs, social partners and similar organizations. Such a Round Table could take place throughout the year as a discussion forum for all social related issues addressed by the NRP. The discussions should be facilitated by a neutral moderator. Results should be found and documented. Points which have been discussed in depth but haven't been considered in the NRP should be justified.” Kerk in Actie, Netherlands: “We propose a hearing with unions, diaconal organizations, the national social alliance groups but also with local authorities, about the draft. It would be a better way to get involved and allow different analyses on the developments of poverty and the policy impact.” Slezská Diakonie, Czech Republic: “There should be more participation of NGOs in working groups or at least a possibility to make comments on the NRP (social inclusion part) preparation process.” ELCF, Finland: “Through more active and efficient participation in the work of the sub-committee mentioned above, but also through more active communication with the Ministry of Finance, bringing forward wellprepared and coordinated points of view of ELCF.”

Country Specific Recommendations  

What is your overall assessment of this year's CSRs for your country? Are the recommendations coherent? Or are they in any way contradictory?

For most organisations, the Country Specific Recommendations are coherent, as they are in line with the European Commission’s overall thinking, but they lack a poverty reduction perspective.

O U R M E M B E R S S AY … Diakonie Deutschland: “No surprise, the CSR are in line with economic objectives. But there is no vision to overcome poverty on the long term. There is a certain coherence regarding the efficiency in the health and care system and the need for stronger competition in the sector of services as it shows the Commission's interest in enhancing efficiency via enhancing competition. CSR’s call for more efficiency in the Health system and the EC takes the example (in the Staff Working Document) of the GP fee patients had to pay which shouldn't have been abolished for the health system to be efficient. But people with low wages shouldn't have to pay too much for social security. In the social investment package on health and in CSR No. 1 prevention is one of the main issues. This only can be done if people got to the GP early. CSRs also call for a broader base of taxes for the state income, which means the abolition of reduced VAT-systems, but

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they also call for fewer taxes for people earning little money. Thus a higher VAT rate would imply more taxes also for the people having low wages.” Kofoeds Skole, Denmark: “All recommendations are in line with the priorities of ensuring financial stability, fiscal consolidation and growth and competitiveness. The CSR points to the tackling of unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis.” Slezská Diakonie, Czech Republic: “CSR are relevant, except the one to “speed up the increase of the statutory retirement age compared to current legislation” which is not a solution for the situation.” Christian Foundation Diakonia, Romania: “Yes, they are appropriate the most important being the labour market participation, the better function of the educational and health system .”  

How do your CSRs from this year compare to those of last year? Have last year's CSR been followed up by your government? In what ways?

Members report that CSRs are similar or have improved in being more detailed, concrete and more appropriate to the national context. O U R M E M B E R S S AY … Diakonie Deutschland: “They are similar concerning the issues but they are a bit more detailed: issues like education of disadvantaged persons, prevention, rehabilitation and autonomous life are new. Following on last year recommendation, the government has enforced the increase of all day kindergartens - but not enough.” Slezská Diakonie, Czech Republic: “This year CSRs are more concrete in some measures (e.g. recommendation on accessibility of pre-school care with a focus to social inclusion). Last year CSRs were maybe different in recommendations towards labour market and employment measures.” Christian Foundation Diakonia, Romania: “The recommendations of this year are more appropriate, adequate, meaning that the essence of Romanian problems are better understood and seized than last year, the learning process is more profound.” ELCF, Finland: “The five CSRs for 2013 are very similar to those five recommendations for 2012. The CSRs of 2012 have been followed up, debated and to a certain extent implemented, especially as regards achieving cost savings in public service and structural changes and territorial administrative reforms linked thereto, and improving the labour market for young people.” 

Do you believe the CSRs respond to the social context and needs in your country?

The CSR’s often respond only to macro-economic trends, a broader approach including social inclusion is needed so as to adapt to the social national contexts.

O U R M E M B E R S S AY … Diakonie Deutschland: “The CSR concerns mainly fiscal and budgetary aspects. The leading target of the CSR is no further debts. Nevertheless, the issues which are relevant for social cohesion are important: less “mini jobs” but better jobs, better education for all, more life-long learning, more prevention, rehabilitation these are important and good CSR’s. However we could have also recommendations calling for a comprehensive and overarching approach to combat poverty. More points from the Staff Working Documents should be negotiated into the final texts.”

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Kofoeds Skole, Denmark: “No, only briefly. The CSR responds to macro-economic trends.” Kerk in Actie, Netherlands: “Yes and No: some will help to stimulate a better social sustainable system but we need a broader stronger approach to support people in a long term situation of poverty.” Slezská Diakonie, Czech Republic: “Partly. The recommendations are very general. The speeding up of the increase of the statutory retirement age compared to current legislation does not respond to the social context. There are not enough working places for people in productive age, so if there is an increase on retirement age, there will be a lot of people over 50 or 60 unemployed and they will use social benefits. Does it solve anything?” Christian Foundation Diakonia, Romania: “It is a quiet exact, it seems to me.” ELCF, Finland: “Yes, although there is a clear focus on strengthening economic growth and competitiveness.” 

Further comments

Diakonie Deutschland: “We have to support the European Parliament (and of course civil society) in getting more involved into the European Semester, the drafting of the CSR. Regarding the still lacking social dimension in the EMU, the planned contracts for competitiveness, growth and jobs and the little significance of the EP in this context shows how important more democratic elements are.” Christian Foundation Diakonia, Romania: “The demographic decline and the emigration will not help economy to strengthen, despite any measures.” ELCF, Finland: “The challenge is - in addition to the complexity of the issue - that the deadlines are often incredibly tight. This makes it for example very difficult for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to react in time on issues relating to poverty and social exclusion. Another problem is that national governments tend to focus very much on the CSRs, instead of having a forward-looking, innovative approach as to how the targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy - including the Poverty Target - could best be achieved.”

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Eurodiaconia analysis and recommendations on the european semester 2013  

Eurodiaconia has published a summary of members’ analysis of the European Semester 2013, the EU's yearly cycle of policy coordination. The...

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