Brussels, 19 April 2012 - In advance of the General Affairs Council on the 24th of April, the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) has written to Prime Ministers insisting that the decisions they make in relation to the next round of Structural Funds is consistent with the agreed EU poverty reduction target.
The Commission’s proposal that at least 25% of the Cohesion Policy budget be allocated to the European Social Fund (ESF) should be seen as a major step forward and a pre-requisite to make sure that the ESF will play a relevant role in delivering, in all EU regions, on the social targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy (poverty reduction, employment, education). 26 Member States seem ready to reject this proposal, which raises severe questions about their commitment to the almost 22% of the EU population in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
“In this time of ‘austerity measures’, the proposal to strengthen the European Social Fund is one of the few signals that could show that European leaders were serious when they agreed an EU poverty reduction target” said Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN. “If Member States weaken the proposal from the Commission, as 26 of them seem set to do, the message to people in or at risk, of poverty and social exclusion, in fact almost 22% of the EU population, will be all too clear” added Mr Horemans.
“The Commission’s proposal that 20% of ESF Funds be ring-fenced for social inclusion and the fight against poverty (which some Member States also seem to be willing to reject), will loose any real meaning unless an adequate budget is dedicated to the ESF”, said Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN. “Words become cheap when they have no consequences, it is now time for the Member States to demonstrate that their words regarding the poverty reduction target have value”, concluded Mr Farrell.
EAPN will launch its campaign to defend the 20% allocation in the European Social Fund early May. Organisations and individuals will be encouraged to sign a letter to Prime Ministers that will be sent by EAPN in advance of the June Council where key decisions will be taken on the future Cohesion package.
The Campaign will be visible on EAPN website’s homepage www.eapn.eu.
The key messages in the EAPN letter to Prime Ministers are:
- Support an increased and secured budget for the European Social Fund (ESF)
- Back the 20% allocation ring-fenced for social inclusion and the fight against poverty in the ESF
- Ensure the continuation of the Food Aid Programme after 2013, outside the 20% ring-fenced for social inclusion
Maintain the binding gender mainstreaming and the horizontal anti-discrimination clauses.
- EAPN’s full letter sent to Prime Ministers.
- EAPN’s previous press release on the topic “EAPN campaigns to support 20% ESF allocation for social inclusion” (13 March 2012).