End of the 3rd European Anti-Poverty Programme:
By the end of “Poverty III” the understandable expectations were that the establishment of a European anti-poverty strategy (called informally as “Poverty IV”) was possible. The overall experience with the 3 previous programmes prepared the road for that decision. However that would not happen at all. A strong opposition shared by Germany, UK and the Netherlands blocked this decision under the argument – principally but not only – that poverty was a national issue and on behalf of the subsidiarity principle it was not a responsibility of the EU. A call for the European Court was made but it took too long to be analysed and the negative final decision only came in 1996.
Jacques Delors “specific social consultation (Copenhagen):
Recognising the anticipated failure of the establishment of a 4th European anti-poverty programme, the EU Commission, trying to keep the “boat floating”, started an approach to conciliate different and, somewhat, contradictory visions amongst Member-States. With the Delors White book (“Growth, Competitiveness and Employment), Employment started to be the main focus. For some this was seen as an opportunity to keep some of the arguments raised with the anti-poverty programmes, for others it was seen as a lost opportunity. For EAPN, the good thing was that “specific social consultation” for NGO’s was part of the game, and the existence of the organisation and it’s mission was not putted at stake – on the contrary, it was seen as a crucial “project” to make Europe become “Citizens Europe” more real. And the support to EAPN by the EC was finally granted considering that this organisation was part of the European project.
Establishment of the EAPN Enlargement Task Force:
Initially devoted to the enlargement of the Network within the existing member states it was crucial to follow the issue of the Eastern countries enlargement. It ran between 1993 and 2007. 3 very important conferences were organised:
- Working with NGOs in Eastern Europe, Budapest, May 1994
- Working with Children and Young People in the Community, Bucharest, March 1996
- Civil society and the new forms of poverty, East and West, Helsinki, May 1998
Establishment of the EAPN Women and Poverty Working Group:
This working group established in 1993 would become a Task Force in 1996-97. A follow-up group would be established between 1998 and 2001. An important achievement was the guidelines for poverty gender proofing.
Establishment of the Economic and Integration Working Group:
This working group, running between 1993 and 1994 produced an important report that:
- outlines the deliberations of the working group set up by EAPN in June 1993 to examine and make recommendations on the problem of economic exclusion in the EU.
- reveals how the European ideal of economic and social cohesion is under threat by a growing process of economic exclusion, whereby a proportion of the population is denied access to the primary labour market and its attendant benefits.
- notes an over-emphasis in the Union on achieving economic convergence under the Maastricht Treaty, with insufficient regard for the employment and social costs.
- proposes that EU policy should be more geared towards generating jobs, through achieving higher levels of economic growth and more employment-intensive growth. It also states that additional measures are required which recognise and address the specific needs of those on the margins of the labour market.
Establishment of the Southern and Peripheral countries working group:
This working group running between 1993 and 1995 (decision taken at the Greek GA in 1992) had as main purpose to enhance the specificities of poverty and social exclusion in countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. The main outputs were a report and a Seminar (Barcelona) with the following proposals:
- To encourage an internal EAPN debate on relations between the Southern and peripheral countries, and the central and Northern countries.
- To analyse three specific issues: a) poverty and welfare in Europe; b) anti poverty strategies and c) the role of voluntary organisations
- To create a forum for discussion on future European social policy and the role of the Network.
Establishment of the Racism and Poverty Working Group:
This Working Group was running between 1993 and 1996 followed by a working group (1996-1998) and a follow-up group (1998-1999). The main output was making a strong connection between poverty and racism and the publication “Racism & Poverty” published in 8 languages (EN/FR /SP/ IT / PT / DE /NL / GR). It is important to enhance that the publication and the work done by this group had a relevant impact in the creation of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR – 1997), with most of its member’s participation actively in the implementation of this structure at the European and national level.
4th GA – Dublin (Ireland)