|Legislation, policies and programmes of the Social Welfare Services (SWS) are in line with those of the European Union. The SWS are in an ongoing process of monitoring and harmonization with the decisions made at a European level. |
The European Union applies the open method of coordination in the areas of social inclusion and social protection which fall within the competence of the SWS.
Projects co-funded by 50% by the European Social Fund and 50% by national fund, Single Programming Document, Objective 3 “Human Resource”, 2004-2006
Social Welfare Services (SWS) are responsible for the implementation of two Projects that are co-funded by 50% by the European Social Fund and by 50% by national funds. The main priority of SWS is the integration of the inactive labour force and the combating of economic and social exclusion.
The Project “Expansion and Improvement of Care Services for the children, the Elderly, the Disabled and Other Dependants’ (Measure 1.4.1) includes the launching of a study about open care services in Cyprus. The results of the study will be used for the funding of 31 open care programmes. The programmes are implemented in cooperation between Local Authorities and Non-governmental organisations. Also, SWS launched a study on the role of Local Authorities in the promotion of care policies for the reconciliation of family and working life. The Project’s actions contribute to the facilitation of women in entering, re-entering or staying in the labour market. It contributes in the reconciliation of family and working life, in the promotion of equal opportunities between the two sexes and in the safeguarding of social cohesion.
The Project “Vocational Training and Promotion of Public Assistance Recipients in the Labour Market” (Measure 1.3.1) contributes to the activation of public assistance recipients, thus assisting their social and employment integration.
Specifically, the Project’s actions aim at the upgrading of their existing professional skills or their acquiring new skills in specialisation according to the labour market needs. The Project’s actions, also, contribute in the combating of digital illiteracy and in enhancing communication skills. It also, contributes in the provision of counselling and in the strengthening of their self-esteem, self-confidence and their employability, so that public assistance recipients become more competitive in the modern Cyprus labour market, thus ensuring equal opportunities to employment.
The European Strategy for Social Inclusion is based on the open method of co-ordination combining common objectives, national action plans and common indicators in order to promote the eradication of poverty and social exclusion by 2010.
Member States submitted their second National Action Plans for Social Inclusion, 2003-2005, according to common objectives agreed at the Nice Summit in December 2000 (revised in December 2002).
The Republic of Cyprus, like all new Member States, will submit their first National Action Plans for Social Inclusion, 2004-2006, in July 2006. The Republic of Cyprus has already participated in the social inclusion process through the preparation and of the Joint Inclusion Memorandum which was signed by the European Commission and the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, in 18.12.2003. The Joint Inclusion Memorandum is a political document identifying the political priorities of Cyprus in the area of social inclusion.
The European Commission published in June 2004 the Working Paper on Social Inclusion in the New Member States, which is a synthesis of the Joint Inclusion Memoranda on Social Inclusion (JIM). This report examines the main challenges which the 10 new Member States face in order to combat poverty /and social exclusion and to promote greater social exclusion.
The SWS have been designated as the co-ordinator of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2004-2006. All actors concerned from the governmental, non-governmental and semi-governmental sectors, academic institutions etc are involved in the process. The NAP/Incl covers a wide range of areas such as health, education, housing, social protection, justice, sports, culture etc.
Cyprus participates in the Community Action Programme for the Encouragement of Co-operation between Member States for the Combat of Social Exclusion. The aim of the Programme is to improve the understanding of social exclusion and poverty, to organise exchanges on policies and promote mutual learning (in the context of national action plans and comparable indicators) and to develop the capacity of actors to address social exclusion and poverty effectively both at national and regional level.
The Peer Review Programme is a key element of the Open Method of Coordination and a key component of the Community Action Programme on Social Inclusion. Peer Reviews are mutual learning processes based on the systematic evaluation of good practice and assessment of selected policies or institutional arrangements coming under the various National Action Plans/Inclusion. Eight Peer Reviews will be held in different Member States in 2004, involving national and regional authorities, representatives of the European Commission, independent social inclusion experts and stakeholder representatives with a special interest in the experience and transfer of the policy. They are intended to ascertain whether and how each reviewed policy, regarded as effective in a national context, can be effectively transferred to other Member States.
The European Union has launched the open method of coordination for a range of policies to promote the exchange between the European Commission and the Member States of the EU about modernising and improving social protection systems.
The European Union encourages the incorporation of active employment measures in social protection systems so that beneficiaries are motivated to (re)enter the labour market.
The public assistance and services for the elderly fall under the social protection policies guaranteeing a minimum standard of living for all persons legally residing in Cyprus.
As of 2004, the SWS participate in the Social Protection Committee which was established in 2000 with the aim of cooperation between the European Commission and the Member States in modernizing and improving social protection systems.
European Employment Strategy
The European Employment Strategy promotes, among others, policies reconciling work and family life to support women΄ s participation in the labour market. Within that framework, the SWS encourage non-governmental organisations to develop social welfare services where necessary. Through technical and financial assistance, the SWS subsidise day care centres for preschool- and school-age children, older persons and persons with disabilities, home care, adult residential care etc.
At the same time, the SWS are responsible by legislation to set up standards and inspect their implementation as regards childcare, adult day care and residential care.
The SWS participate in a Task Force (initiated by the Department of Labour) for the preparation of the Joint Assessment Paper which was signed by the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance and the European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, in 2001.