Social rights are one of the foundations on which Europe was built over the course of the last century. And yet, despite the significant progress made in this sphere on our continent, social rights are far from being fully guaranteed in practice for all Europeans. Access to the right to social protection, to health, to employment, to housing and to education comes up against many and varied obstacles. Ultimately, what is the value of a right that cannot be exercised in practice?
The main types of factors impeding access to social rights are:
-Specification of right and adequacy of legal and other provision
-Inadequate monitoring and enforcement
-Management and procedural
-Information and communication
-Psychological and socio-cultural obstacles
-Inadequate attention to vulnerable groups and regions
Source: Access to Social Rights in Europe Report prepared by Mary Daly, Queen’s University, Belfast.
How can we contribute to improving the access to social rights of people from disadvantaged neighborhoods?
The Council of Europe could act as a link between the members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the participants at its seminars on new ways of participation using information and communication technologies. Specifically, it could pair up members of the Congress who represent disadvantaged areas with the participants from the seminars, to organize participation projects in disadvantaged areas. The best projects could be awarded a prize and be promoted as success stories. This way, people will be shown that "it can be done" and will become more confident that they can influence public policies in their neighborhoods. The members of the Committee of the Regions who support participation initiatives, should also be promoted as officials who care about their constituents.
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