The Covid19 pandemic has heavily impacted city healthcare and social care systems across Europe. It has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in coverage, availability, quality, and access to social and care services and has also shown a need for systemic change.
The stunning humanitarian response many cities are giving to Ukrainian refugees adds challenges to their social services. Many cities have been quick to mobilise solidarity actions and put in place support structures to welcome those who left their home, including arranging for temporary housing, childcare, education, and guiding towards health and social services.
Many local authorities have already embarked on local social care reforms to integrate social and care services to tackle these recent challenges. Other cities are engaging in national debates about reforming care systems.
This debate has also reached the EU level. Later this year, the European Commission will propose an EU Care Package as a strategic framework for policy reforms to guide member states in developing sustainable long-term care to ensure better and more affordable access to quality services for all.
Social Affairs Forum in Barcelona
To discuss the challenges and solutions and conclude with policy recommendations for the EU Care Package, Eurocities members will gather in Barcelona at the Social Affairs Forum on 11-13 May.
Over 150 representatives from cities across Europe, including deputy mayors and city directors for social services, will gather to discuss the care systems in cities, exchange on recent trends and social care policies and debate how to transform social welfare systems to support a fair and inclusive recovery in our cities.
Barcelona will inspire by offering to visit some of their social activities on site. participants will engage in high-level political panel debates, and learn from other cities in workshops.
The forum will explore the following aspects of social welfare:
- Minimum income
- Organisation of care
- Reducing inequalities between neighbourhoods in our cities
- Integration of migrants
- Affordable housing
- Digital inclusion
- Gender equality
- Fight against discrimination
Livestream of sessions
The Social Affairs Forum will be an in-person meeting. However, several sessions will be livestream in English on Eurocities YouTube channel – Day 1.
The official opening will start on 11 May from 18.00 – 19.00 CET with opening remarks by Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona, and Thomas Fabian, Deputy Mayor of Leipzig (representing Eurocities Vice-President) who will announce and present the new Eurocities statement ‘Caring Cities: Acting in Solidarity with all refugees’.
European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, will connect online to address the SAF members and give a keynote speech in reaction to the Eurocities statement.
From 09.30 – 12.30 CET on Thursday, live interviews with young people from Barcelona will take part in the city’s programme for ‘New Leadership’.
After that, four new city pledges will be announced:
- Barcelona’s city pledge on gender equality
- Amsterdam’s city pledge on mental health
- Vienna’s new pledge on active support to employment
- Madrid’s new pledge to combat homelessness.
From 10.45 CET, the high-level panel debate will be streamed. Deputy mayors from Barcelona and Warsaw, members of the European Parliament, European Commission and UNICEF will attend on the theme: How can cities contribute to transforming care systems in the EU to be more equitable, non-discriminative, and inclusive for all, in times of crisis?
The morning plenary sessions will be livestream in English on Eurocities Youtube Channel – Day 2.