Xenios Polis and the Representation of the European Commission to Greece
organized the International Scientific Conference Vulnerable Social Groups: Sυnergies And Perspectives. The conference took place on Friday March 31 and Saturday April 1 2017 at Titania Hotel(Panepistimiou 52, Athens)
With the support of ELEPAP, the National Centre of Social Research, the Ark of the World, UNICEF, the Family and Child Care Center, CARDET, ALDA, TESLA Network
Under the Auspices of Municipality of Athens
Review / Results:
- Supported by 10 International and Greek organizations
- 31 International and Greek organizations
- 20 representatives from 14 European countries
- 19 thematic sessions
- 1 interactive workshop
- 105 speakers
- 385 participants
- 35 volunteers
The current economic crisis in Greece hasled to an alarming rise of the poverty and social exclusion rates. According to a recent OECD study, 1/3 of Greek population lives in poverty conditions while the high unemployment rates worsen further the existing social unrest.
This economic crisis has shaped a complex social status quo in which the vulnerable social groups have been the first “victims”, living in high risk of poverty and social exclusion. As the European Commission states, ‘on the one side the inequalities gap between the vulnerable social groups and the rest of population widens and on the other side the number of these groups is multiplied’. The vulnerable social groups (persons with special needs, elderly people, minorities, drug users, etc.) have been enriched with the single-parent families and the in-work poor. Apart from this, the existing social changes have affected the social structures and thus ad hoc sensitive groups have been created, for example families with the couple living in different countries due to migration. Lastly, the current migration and refugee crisis has put forward new social needs such as the primary care for migrants and refugees (healthcare, etc.) as well as their social integration through their formal and informal education and socialization processes.
European added value
Combatting poverty and social exclusion has been set as a key priority for the European Strategy 2020 expecting that at least 20 million people will no longer live in poverty and social exclusion conditions. The EU has developed a set of important policy tools towards the abovementioned goal: the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Platform against poverty and social exclusion and the European Social Fund, for a better and a more effective social and economic integration of the vulnerable social groups.
The EU has responded to and managed effectively the unprecedented refugee and migrant crisis through humanitarian aid. More specifically, the European Commission provided member-states with a total funding of 700 million euros for the period 2016-2018, from which 83 million euros have been given to Greece on covering special needs such as housing, primary healthcare, potable water for migrants and refugees. Moreover, 18 member-states of the EU have provided Greece with assistance in kind through the Political Protection Mechanism.
At the same time, the refugee and migration crisis has been a great impetus for the re-shaping of migration and asylum policy. As one of the ten Commission’s priorities, the EU has set in the European Migration Agenda the following priorities: incentives limitation for illegal migration, the effective border management, a strong common asylum policy and the shaping of a new policy for legal migration with better integration policies and benefits maximization.
The importance and the innovative character of the Conference
The effective and consistent economic and social support of the above mentioned groups can be achieved through a coordinated action by all the responsible actors (national, international and non-state) on the basis of common challenges.
This conference aims at presenting a series of contemporary research results and policy proposals for vulnerable social groups and relative thorny social issues.
The conference will address the following questions:
- What are the key characteristics of the vulnerable social groups and what are the main challenges these groups face?
- Which social groups have been more affected by the economic crisis and how do they cope with it?
- How do the state and non-state actors have mainstreamed the EU policy tools?
- How do refugees and migrants as well as the local population perceive the refugee and migration crisis? What are the main challenges for Greece and for Europe?
- How can the civil society organizations react and act?
At a second level, the conference aims at building partnerships and co-operations between organizations, foundations and associations (at a national or international level) that promote human rights protection and coordinate programs which both focus on social integration and solidarity and combat social exclusion. In any case, it is expected that a common ground for further cooperation and new ways of citizens’ awareness raising on considerable social issues will be constructed.
The main thematic areas of the conference are:
- Refugee issue
- Specific population groups (e.g. Roma)
- Unaccompanied minors / children
- Single-parent families
- People with Disabilities
- Mental Health
- Patients with chronic diseases
- Human Trafficking
- Crime and aberrant behaviors
- New models of co-existence in urban centers
- Education and discrimination
- Vocational education and training of vulnerable social groups
- Counseling and social support for vulnerable social groups
- Presentation of best practices by Independent NGOs and Companies
- Social economy and vulnerable social groups financing
You can read more information and download the participation form here