Social investment policies in cities and developing inclusive and integrated services were top of the agenda at our social affairs forum meeting in Newcastle last week.
More than 100 delegates attended the event, including politicians, city officers and experts from across Europe. Politicians met to discuss the role of political leadership in times of economic, political and social changes, and came up with recommendations for the new European Commission.
The forum elected Leipzig as its new chair and Barcelona as its new vice chair. Two cities, Acharnes and Besiktas, were approved by the forum as associated partners. These changes must be now approved by the EUROCITIES executive committee on 5 November at EUROCITIES 2014 Munich.
Nicholas Costello, from the European Commission, gave a keynote address on the Social Investment Package and integrated services. He insisted upon the importance of investing early and preventively to enhance social cohesion and he stressed the need to foster more effective and efficient social spending. He also reaffirmed that cities have an important role to play in the Social Investment Package.
Delegates reiterated their commitment to the development of inclusive cities, including the need to tackle challenges such as fragmented service delivery and foster social cohesion. They reaffirmed the continued concern for unemployment, especially of young people and agreed on the necessity to pursue the actions in favour of employment and social inclusion. Participants had the chance to address several other high priority areas through interactive sessions including active ageing, employment for people with disabilities, and diversity and inclusion in cities.
The attendees had the opportunity to see first hand how Newcastle is promoting inclusive local services, including through a visit to a university campus dedicated to active ageing, a social enterprise providing employment to young offenders, a training centre for people with disabilities, and a service helping unemployed people to access job and training opportunities.
A number of policy and project proposals were made during the forum. They will contribute to achieving the social affairs forum priorities for 2015, which are: the promotion of social cohesion in diverse societies, the inclusion of young people, and the reduction of poverty.