The ALLIANCE reviews their continued activity in Europe in 2019.
In 2019, the ALLIANCE worked to maintain Scotland’s third sector profile in Brussels in the run up to Brexit. We did so by maintaining representation on several European bodies including the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the EIP on AHA (European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing), the European Patients’ Academy (EUPATI) and the European Patients Forum (EPF).
We began the year by publishing a report ‘Brexit: What Matters to Local Communities and Older People in Scotland’ which highlighted the findings of engagement activity surrounding the potential impact of Brexit. We also liaised with colleagues to promote the ALLIANCE’s Private Members Bill which sought to secure an independent evaluation of the impact Brexit could have on the health and social care sector. This bill was supported by more than 90 third sector organisations, many of which are ALLIANCE members.
Throughout 2019, ALLIANCE Director Irene Oldfather continued to act as the Third Sector Representative for Scotland for the EESC. Throughout the year, we contributed to EESC Third Sector work by attending EESC Plenaries, SOC and REX sessions. We also supported EESC motions calling for the strengthening of the European Pillar of Social Rights as well as a consideration of economic, technological and social changes in advanced services for the elderly. We successfully tabled two amendments to plenary reports on Peace and the Future of Europe.
Our director Irene also had the opportunity to participate in EESC debates over the year. This included a debate on European priorities, highlighting the importance of prevention, diet and inequality and a debate alongside Michel Barnier highlighting the impact of Brexit on civic society. This allowed us to share our view that it is essential to work across borders to share best practice and achieve stronger health and wellbeing outcomes.
We were particularly intentional in pursuing a continued dialogue and relationship with European organisations this year. In fact, in late 2019 we worked alongside Stefano Mallia (EESC President of Brexit Sub Committee from Malta) to co-host a delegation and exchange views with Scottish Government, Parliament, businesses, trade unions and the voluntary sector on maintaining relationships with Civic Scotland, the UK and Europe post-Brexit. We also attended the week-long Canada/EU Domestic Advisory Group delegation on Trade in Ottawa, Canada.
Patient engagement has remained a key focus as we have continued to work very closely with EUPATI UK to engage with both patients and patient organisations on how to use the EUPATI Toolbox to share learning. We have also shared EPF communications widely across all of our networks.
Through these partnerships, the ALLIANCE has been able to deliver extensive engagement work and give a greater platform to share the views of our members, local communities and the seldom heard voices in our society. Going forward, we hope to maintain links with our EU sister organisations and networks to ensure there is a strong voice for people with lived experience in influencing the policy, services and resources agenda.