Of particular importance for EAPN are three of the five headline targets, namely: poverty reduction (lifting at least 20 million people out of poverty and social exclusion), employment (achieve 75% occupation), and education (reduce early school leaving to 10% and increase the completion rate for tertiary to at least 40%).
The Europe 2020 Strategy, adopted in 2010, sets out a comprehensive vision for Europe to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth by 2020.
Together with the 31 National Networks and 18 European Organisations in membership of EAPN, we engage closely with this Strategy, in the framework of the European Semester, by both lobbying national and EU policy members to achieve impact, as well as by actively monitoring the processes and policies put forward in this framework, from a poverty perspective. You can find all information about the Europe 2020 strategy here.
EAPN feels it is crucial to engage with these processes for the following reasons:
- The Strategy and the implementation cycle are the dominant EU policy process for delivering on the EU’s economic, employment and social priorities and could provide a development framework for the European Union and its Member States, setting out a vision for the future of Europe and for a sustainable exit from the crisis.
- Europe 2020 objectives are direct drivers for EU funding opportunities, most significantly Structural Funds, which are explicitly linked to the targets, hence it brings clear benefits to national organisations who engage.
- The Strategy includes key targets to reduce poverty, increase employment and tackle educational exclusions, but progress has been limited, as even more people are now in poverty, the employment rate has declined, and what has been achieved on reducing early school-leaving is largely insufficient.
- Stakeholders, including civil society, are supposed to be key partners in the delivery at national and EU level. However, their involvement remains so far very marginal, with limited engagement and minimal impact on the policy proposals, and few new opportunities for engagement and structural dialogue put forward by the European Commission, or by national Governments.
Some of the highlights of EAPN’s annual work with Europe 2020, together with its members, include:
- Throughout the year, national members seek active involvement with their Government, European Semester Officer, and other key contacts, including the European Commission through bilateral meetings and fact-finding missions, to achieve meaningful input into the National Reform Programmes, National Social Reports, as well as other connected processes pertaining to the implementation of Europe 2020.
- Working together on the Country Reports, by asking members to fill in an evaluation questionnaire, which underpin an annual synthesis report complete with national fiches and shadow Country Specific Recommendations for each country.
- Working together on the National Reform Programmes, by asking members to fill in an evaluation questionnaire, which underpin an annual synthesis report, with key messages for decision makers.
- Working together on Country Specific Recommendations, by reviewing them together with members once issued by the European Commission, and releasing a complete analysis, highlighting positive, negative, and missing elements for each country.
- Organising an annual high-level policy conference in Brussels, to disseminate the result of EAPN’s work on the Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Semester.
- Producing, together with members, a detailed response and analysis of the Annual Growth Survey Communication and draft Joint Employment Report.
- Actively lobbying at Brussels level, through letters, press releases, statements and position papers, alliances and partnerships, campaigns and events, to push for meaningful delivery of the Strategy’s targets, as well as full stakeholder engagement in the processes, including people experiencing poverty and their civil society organisations.