On 21 February 2019, city leaders debated with MEPs on the future of a social Europe at the European Parliament. City leaders discussed with MEPs and EU officials opportunities on how to implement better synergies between policy makers and civil society at local, national and EU-level and how to ensure equal opportunities and social rights for all people.
The event was the official launch of the EUROCITIES initiative ‘Inclusive Cities for All: Social Rights in My City’ that draws attention to the role of cities in realising social inclusion and implementing measures to ensure social rights for citizens all over Europe. The outcomes of the debates will feed into upcoming EUROCITIES recommendations for the future of social Europe.
So far, 21 European cities signed pledges showing their clear commitment to implement the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The pledges outline dedicated investments totaling over € 4.32 billion for the next 5 years (2019-2024) for urban initiatives. 9 out of 21 pledges addressed the principle of affordable housing and support for homeless people. Cities committed to invest over € 2.17 billion to build 75,000 new affordable homes by 2024. However, at the debate with MEPs and the European Commission in February, the city representatives also delivered a clear message toward EU officials to increase their support in this endeavour in view of better funding, better regulation and better data.
Among the 21 cities that signed pledges, four are located in the Danube Region: Stuttgart (DE), Ljubljana (SI), Vienna (AT), and Timisoara (RO). The four cities showed a clear commitment to inclusion of people with disabilities, health care, housing and assistance for the homeless, gender equality, childcare and support to children, and long-term care. The cities particularly committed to the following measures and investments:
Stuttgart – Inclusion of people with disabilities
Stuttgart has a strong focus on Principle 17 „Inclusion of people with disabilities“ of the European Pillar of Social Rights. With around 44,000 people with severe disabilities living in Stuttgart, the city takes the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) very seriously. Against this background, Stuttgart advocates processes, structures, offers, services and institutions that are accessible and give people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in and shape urban life. Thus, Stuttgart invests 1 M EUR in accessible housing, 110,000 EUR per year on equal participation in recreational, sports and cultural activities, 1 M EUR in barrier-free mobility, 860,000 EUR in inclusive schools. Additionally, Stuttgart promotes the political participation of people with disabilities with 53,000 EUR per year and creates job opportunities in local public administration for people with disabilities.
Ljubljana – Commitment to Housing and Healthcare
Ljubljana emphasises measures addressing Principle 16 “Health care” and Principle 19 “Housing and Assistance for Homeless” of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Between 2018 and 2022, Ljubljana invests €29 million in the renovation of health centres and purchase of high-quality healthcare equipment, which is a continuation of investments amounting to €32 million between 2007 and 2017. Ljubljana also continues providing high-quality and optimal access to primary healthcare services in 11 locations in the city with over 2.7 million patient visits a year as well as providing high-quality and optimal access to primary healthcare services in 11 locations in the city with over 2.7 million patient visits a year. In the area of housing, the city invests €150 million in 2018-2022 to provide 1,500 new homes in addition to the existing stock of 3,671 homes rented to people via public tenders, and the 436 housing properties for families at risk of homelessness. Additionally, Ljubljana invests €3 million to rebuild the homeless shelter and upgrades social services for the most vulnerable people and long-term homeless people
Vienna – Strengthening Gender Equality
Vienna shows a strong commitment to Principle 2 on “Gender Equality” of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Following its long-standing tradition of gender equality policies, Vienna invests in a fifth safe shelter for women and children who have experienced domestic violence, advice centres with 24-hour women's emergency helpline, free childcare for all children from birth to six years of age with a focus on gender-sensitive education, support participation of over 3,000 girls and 160 businesses each year to the 'Take Our Daughters to Work Day' to empower girls from an early age to overcome gender-role stereotypes and explore careers in all fields of work. The Vienna Employment Promotion Fund supports women to enhance their skills and qualifications. Additionally, the Vienna Business Agency supports career development of women in traditionally male-dominated sectors by granting bonuses for women in top jobs and since 2010, Vienna applies gender clauses in public procurement.
Timisoara – Support for Childcare, Long-term Care & Housing
Timisoara signed a pledge committing to Principle 11 on “childcare and support to children”, Principle 18 on “long-term care” and Principle 19 on “housing and assistance for homeless” of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Against this background, Timisoara invests €1 million per year in social services for children and families and invests €5 million in projects to improve support services for children and families with special emphasis on the most deprived neighbourhoods between 2019 and 2025. Furthermore, Timisoara provides €1.5 million per year in social services that provide care for the elderly and invests €1.5 million for projects to improve access to and diversity of elderly care services and support more active involvement of the elderly in the community life between 2019 and 2025. Regarding the principle on housing and support for homeless people, Timisoara plans to invest €3.3 million each year to manage 1,519 public housing units and another €1 million each year to provide assistance for homeless. Additionally, Timisoara develops support services to reach out to 25% more homeless by 2025, including a mobile emergency intervention service (social ambulance) with a multi-disciplinary socio-medical team.