ENIL has been busy with the EU Funds for Our Rights’ Campaign, as we mark the middle of the current programming period and more NGOs come forward with concerns about the use of EU Funds in their countries.
On 11 June, we attended a Roundtable Discussion on the Deinstitutionalisation of Social Care in Croatia. The event was organised by the European Commission’s Representation in Croatia and the World Bank. The objective was to discuss the current state of the deinstitutionalisation (DI) strategy in Croatia. It was attended by representatives of the civil society, the Croatian Government, the World Bank, the European Commission and other stakeholders involved in the process of DI.
Representatives of the Government spoke about the challenges of continuing the DI process, which began under the previous administration. Civil society representatives highlighted a number of issues that are problematic – supported by ENIL – such as the draft Law on Foster Care, which provides for the placement of adults with disabilities into foster care families and the draft Family Law, which has reintroduced full guardianship. The European Commission showed willingness to continue engaging with the Government when it comes to DI, and will be paying close attention to how EU funds are being used.
Also this month (14thand 15thJune), ENIL organised a two-day regional event in Brussels, bringing together our members and allies from 14 Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). The event was divided in three sessions, with the last session being open to representatives of EU institutions.
The objective of this event was to highlight the key achievements of the Campaign during the first year, to discuss the current situation in the Member States and the key challenges for NGOs at the local/national level. The aim was also to update each other about the relevant policy developments at EU level and the plans for the next programming period (2021 – 2027).
Having spent two days discussing the challenges we face advocating for better use of EU Funds in Brussels and Member States, we see a similar picture across Europe – real barriers to NGO participation in the implementation of EU Funds (drafting of calls, preparation of projects) and little transparency when it comes to the actual projects EU funds support. By and large, Member States are building smaller institutions (small group homes etc.), supporting services that are not sustainable, misinterpreting the Independent Living terminology (such as personal assistance). We are also concerned about the countries which are not using EU funds for DI, but are using national funds to construct new institutions.
We had the opportunity to share these concerns with representatives of the European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and DG for Regional and Urban Policy) during the open session of the event, and to ask questions about how to provide input for the next programming period and to have better cooperation between NGOs on the ground and the EC.
In the coming months, we will continue actively monitoring the use of EU and national Funds for Independent Living and actively advocating towards the European Commission with regard to specific situations in Belgium, France, Croatia, Portugal, Slovenia, Hungary and Romania.
If you would like to take part in our Campaign, please contact the Campaign Coordinator Natasa Kokic at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please like our Facebook page and report any cases where you believe ESIF is not used to support independent living, but to maintain institutional care.