The conference was held on Friday 23rd September in the International Auditorium (International Trade-Unions House) in Brussels.
Approximately 200 participants were present – consisting of 120 EAPN members (1 representative from each national network in each of the 3 working groups (social inclusion, employment and structural funds working groups, EAPN European Organisation members, secretariat staff and 30 people experiencing poverty participating in an EAPN training taking place in Brussels on the 21 and 22 September), and 80 stakeholders from Brussels: social NGOs, social partners, representatives from EU and national authorities, academics…
Key speakers included:
- Justine Bark, Author of ‘Diary of a Jobseeker’
- Lauris Beets, Chair of Social Protection Committee
- Patrick Itschert, Deputy Secretary General of the ETUC
- Frédéric Daerden, MEP, Rapporteur of the European Parliament opinion on the Platform against Poverty, S+D, Belgium
- Maureen O’Neill, Rapporteur of the EESC opinion on the Platform against Poverty
- Marcel Haag, Head of Unit: Strategic Objective Prosperity, Secretariat General, European Commission
- Pieter De Pous, Policy Director, Spring Alliance/European Environmental Bureau
- Conny Reuter, President of Social Platform
- Alexandra Strickner, European ATTAC Network
- Olmo Gálvez, Movimiento 15-M (Spanish movement)
- Katherine Duffy, EAPN UK Expert and authorof EAPN position on the crisis
- Useful documents: EAPN reports on the social impact of the crisis:
- Is the European project moving backward? February 2011
- The social impact of the crisis and of the recovery package, December 2009
- Working Paper: Re-engaging Hope and Expectations – Getting out of the Crisis Together – French – Swedish
Hard copies of these documents, as well as all EAPN’s key documents, are available in from the EAPN office. For more information, please contact Sian Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rebecca Lee (email@example.com), or + 32 2 226 58 50.
- Video Europe needs a new heart: the compilation of photos of the exhibition coordinated by Sergio Aires (EAPN Portugal) and shown in Lisbon.
- Article about the conference in the Attac’s blog (in german)
9.00 Key note speeches
- Opening intervention, Justine Bark, Author of ‘Diary of a Jobseeker’
- EAPN position on the crisis, Katherine Duffy, EAPN UK Expert and author of EAPN position
11.00 – 12.30 6 parallel WORKSHOPS – Social impact of the crisis: realities lived by people experiencing poverty and EAPN national networks at the national level, positive alternatives and mobilization?
Workshop 1 – Ireland and Iceland
- Presentation 1: Ireland: Paul Ginnell, EAPN Ireland
- Presentation 2: Iceland: Vilborg Oddsdottir, EAPN Iceland – speech – powerpoint
Workshop 2 – Spain and Denmark
- Presentation 1: Spain: Graciela Malgesini, EAPN Spain
- Presentation 2: Denmark: Per K. Larsen, EAPN Denmark
Workshop 3 – UK and Poland
- Presentation 1: United Kingdom: Peter Kelly, EAPN UK
- Presentation 2: Poland: Ryszard Szarfenberg, EAPN Poland
Workshop 4 – Hungary and Sweden
- Presentation 1: Hungary: Daniella Orobej, EAPN Hungary (no visual presentation)
- Presentation 2: Sweden: Gunvi Haggren, EAPN Sweden (no visual presentation)
Workshop 5 – Greece and Belgium
- Presentation 1: Greece: Maria Marinakou, EAPN Greece
- Presentation 2: Belgium: Genevieve Baert and Christine Mahy, EAPN Belgium (no visual presentation)
Workshop 6 – Portugal and Estonia
- Presentation 1: Portugal: Julio Paiva, Sérgio Aires & Hélder Ferreira, EAPN Portugal
- Presentation 2: Estonia: Irma Tramberg and Kärt Mere, EAPN Estonia
14.00 – 15.30 6 parallel WORKSHOPS – What alternative solutions are being developed?
Workshop 1 – Is stability/austerity the only way? Re-thinking EU macroeconomics basics
Chair: Michaela Moser, EAPN Vice-President, EAPN Austria
Rapporteur: Maria Jeliazkova, EAPN Bulgaria
Anti-poverty NGOs have been documenting the disastrous social impact of austerity policies on social cohesion. They question the primacy given to budget stability, economic governance and fiscal restraint through EU economic and monetary policies that underpin the EU 2020 Strategy. They are convinced that fairer alternative approaches to exit strategies, reducing public deficits, including taxation are possible. They want to discuss the shaping of the EU Budget. The workshop will discuss alternative macroeconomic approaches to exit strategies and to driving Europe 2020.
Workshop 2 – An alternative use of Cohesion Policy is part of the solution
Chair: Stephan Backes, EAPN Belgium
Rapporteur: Katarzyna Gierczcyka, EAPN Poland
Even during the current economic crisis, Structural Funds have fallen far short of their potential to promote social inclusion. Anti-poverty NGOs have been calling for Cohesion Policy to be better geared to developing social inclusion and being more accessible to small scale projects and organisations. The EU 2020 Flagship initiative on Poverty and social inclusion make some positive proposals about Structural Funds. Nevertheless, a radical rethinking is needed to make sure that Cohesion policy will deliver on the social targets of the EU2020 Strategy and be a key instrument to ensure a positive response to the crisis.How to make it really happen?
Workshop 3 – Creating quality employment and ensuring employment security are positive factors of cohesive and sustainable growth!
Chair: Patrick Boulte, EAPN France
Rapporteur: Colin Hampton, European Network of the Unemployed – EAPN
The EU is seen as supporting worrying developments in terms of employment policy. Evidence from the ground points to negative effects of national austerity policies, often driven by EU requirements, such as deregulation of the labour market, downward pressure on wages and working conditions, increased in-work-poverty. Unless a change of paradigm happens, towards sustainable and inclusive growth in employment policy, then neither the employment, nor the poverty targets of Europe 2020 can hope to be achieved. This can only be obtained through supporting integrated Active Inclusion approaches in employment, featuring personalised pathways towards inclusive labour markets (complete with adequate social protection and access to quality services), and investment in quality jobs (both existing and newly-created posts).
Workshop 4 – Strengthening social protection, including adequate minimum income for all, is the fair way out of the crisis: it really works
Chair: Ludo Horemans, EAPN President, EAPN Belgium
Rapporteur: Vito Telesca, EAPN Italy
The role of automatic stabilization of social protection in the crisis has been formally recognized by the EU, as well as its key role in reducing poverty by 1/3. However, social services and social benefits are being the first hit by austerity measures. This approach will generate more poverty and social exclusion, exacerbating the hardship and insecurity faced by the most vulnerable, destroying the social floor, undermining consumption and the economy and preventing a sustainable, socially cohesive recovery. This workshop will gather arguments in favor of investing in minimum income and social protection including as productive factors, assessing the long-term social and economic impact of inaction and cuts, and discuss concrete proposals in the framework of the 2020 Strategy and the Active Inclusion approach (including an EU framework for minimum income).
Workshop 5 – Services: Cushioning the social impacts of the crisis by defending universal, affordable, accessible and quality services
Chair: Robert Urbé, EAPN Luxembourg / Caritas Europa
Rapporteur: Sergio Aires, EAPN Portugal
The universal, affordable, accessible and quality nature of services is under threat despite the new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty and the recent European Voluntary Quality Framework on Social Services of General Interests. Services are indeed first to be cut in austerity policies despite the fact they are most needed by people to cope. The budget cuts are also being used to drive a growing privatization agenda leading to a worrying trend of of poor, segmented services for specific target groups. Civil society initiatives should not compensate for a decline in public investment in services. Europe 2020 should invest in services as economic and social stabilizers in time of crisis as well as explore the potential for socially innovative approaches, also building on bottom-up approaches led by NGO initiatives.
- Laura Jones’ presentation, Eurodiaconia / Social Platform
- Jan Willem Gourdiaan’s presentation, EPSU
- Key messages from workshop 5
Workshop 6 – Democratic deficit: who decides?
Chair: Alexander Kraake, EAPN Germany
Rapporteur: Paul Dragan, EAPN Romania
Increasingly people are losing confidence in the ability of democratic Institutions to protect their interests. The rescue packages from the crisis are seen to be acting in the interest of the elites in the financial institutions at the cost of investment in public services and social welfare. At the same time civil society organisations and anti poverty NGOs lack the necessary financial support to be able both to support people in need and fulfill their advocacy role. Challenging budget decisions and proposing democratic alternatives requires capacity building in economic literacy. One response to this reality has been the call for the practice of ‘participative budgeting’: a participative budget-setting methodology developed primarily by self-organised development organisations in the South. This workshop will discuss the development of this practice and explore to what extent this practice could be further developed in the EU. Action Aid has developed expertise in this area and will assist in the development of this workshop.
- Hussaini Abdu’s presentation, ActionAid
- Jorge Romano’s presentation, ActionAid International
- Laura Sullivan’s presentation, ActionAid International
- Key messages from workshop 6