EU Universal Social Protection Advocacy Tour

Universal and comprehensive social protection systems and floors are essential to fight poverty and inequality




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Dr. Luise Steinwachs
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The role social protection plays in eradicating and preventing poverty, and in creating social and economic development, is largely recognised by international agencies, donors, governments and civil society. Nevertheless, less than 30% of the world’s population has adequate social security coverage according to the ILO World Social Protection Report 2014/15, “Building economic recovery, inclusive development and social justice”.

The current political momentum around social protection as a development strategy, coupled with the increasing need to forge a new development paradigm to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), presents a unique opportunity to put commitments into practice.

With this background, on the week of November 3rd, the UNIVERSAL SOCIAL PROTECTION  ADVOCACY TOUR was organised by the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors, SOLIDAR, Brot für die Welt and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung with the participation, among others, of the Arab NGO Network for Development (Lebanon), the Phoenix Center (Jordan), the African Platform for Social Protection (Kenya), the Trade Union Confederation (Ghana), the CIPPEC (Argentina), SEWA (India), HelpAge Thailand and the Asia Europe People Forum (The Philippines).

The Tour included dialogues with CSOs advocating for Universal Social Protection and Tax Justice as well as exchanges with EU representatives (Members of the European Parliament, Permanent Representation officials, European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) representatives, and European Commission officials) to advocate for the inclusion of universal and comprehensive social protection systems and floors in the post-2015 development framework. The dialogue has been covered on twitter through #SocialProtection4All.

The Tour highlighted the role that different EU institutions can play in the pledge for the implementation of Universal Social Protection systems.

In particular, it was highlighted that the European Parliament has a strong role to play

  1. Recognising that Social Protection is a human right which enables the fulfillment of other rights.
  2. Supporting, in the post-2015 development cooperation framework, the inclusion of a target on the implementation, by 2030, of universal and comprehensive social protection systems and quality nationally-defined social protection floors (such as outlined in ILO Recommendation 202).
  3. Supporting the CSOs role in the design, monitoring, evaluation and, where relevant, the implementation of universal social protection systems and floors (including the design of legal framework).


Dialogue with MEPs

On 4 November 2014 the round table “Winning the fight against poverty and inequality: a Social Protection Floor for Everyone” opened the UNIVERSAL SOCIAL PROTECTION ADVOCACY TOUR.

CSOs coming from different parts of the world, members of the Global Coalition for social protection floors and Members of the European Parliament had an exchange on how Social Protection Floors contribute to eradicate poverty and inequality and to the realisation of human rights; Why Social Protection should be a development priority in the Post-2015 development agenda; Existing good practice of social protection in Developing Countries (including Low income Countries); The role can the European Parliament can play to promote the human right to social security.

Among the MEPs who participated in the exchange were MEP Norbert Neuser (S&D Group), who hosted the meeting, MEP Heidi Hautala (Green/EFA Group), MEP Konstantinos Chrysogonos, (GUE/NGL Group), MEP Charles Goerens (ALDE Group) and MEP Malin Bjork (GUE/NGL Group).

Dialogue with EU Government Representatives

Starting from November 5th, several meetings took place with EU member states Permanent Representations’ Officials. With the forthcoming Council Conclusions on Post -2015 to be adopted in December 2014 and the ongoing negotiations on the post-2015 international development cooperation framework, the meetings aimed at raising support so that the forthcoming Council Conclusions keep a strong focus on universal and comprehensive social protection systems and floors (such as outlined in ILO Recommendation 202).

Exchange with CSOs

2015 will be the European Year of Development, the year when the post-2015 development framework will be adopted and the Financing for Development Conference will take place. With this in mind, exchanges were held on campaigning tools and possible advocacy actions during the course of 2015.

As Conny Reuter, Secretary General of SOLIDAR stated in his conclusions: “we should use the momentum of the post2015 debate and the coming European Year of Development to continue building alliances with trade union movements, civil society and institutional partners to work on implementing the priority of social protection floor as a global right, as an investment which can really lead to a policy change with sustainable social, economic, environmental benefits for all”.


In connection with the advocacy tour, a briefing paper Winning the Fight against Poverty and Inequality was published with contributions of the delegates and the organisers.


* SOLIDAR, Brot für die Welt and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung are members of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors: established in 2012, the Coalition for a Social Protection Floor is a network of 80 organisations (NGOs, trade unions, think tanks) all around the world. It seeks to influence international debates social protection floors and raise awareness of the ILO Recommendation. On November 21st, the Coalition will host a side-event at the official Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) meeting in Geneva on “The Social Protection Floor: critical step to achieve right for universal social security for all” organized by FES Geneva and the PWESCR. The aim of the event it to demand the members of the CESCR to issue a statement recognizing the ILO's Social Protection Floors Recommendation 202 as instrumental to the realization of the right to social security.