Origin of EAPN
The creation of the anti poverty network is the result of a convergence of interests on the part of the NGOs themselves and on the part of the European Commission.
On the part of NGOs, there was an increased awareness in the nineteen eighties of the European dimension of the fight against poverty, and the influence that Community policies could have on national policies. They realised that countless special-interest groups were already well represented in Brussels both in the commercial and non-profit sector, while the fifty million people living in poverty at that time and the organisations that work with them simply were not. On the other hand it was an historic moment where it was already recognised, namely by the EC and its President, Jacques Delors, that there was also a gap between decision makers and the citizens. The idea of the “Europe of the Citizens” starts to be enhanced and the Commission, namely stating that the EU governance should be more than just governments and that the participation of the citizens and their organisations – called civil society – should be fully engaged in a more open governance – later called “good governance”. This happened also following the results of the EU anti-poverty programme, particularly the 3rd one who recommended supporting the creation of a network (a quite new concept at that time). That was the gap that the European anti-poverty network has been aiming to fill since its founding General Assembly held in Brussels in December 1990.
Contacts and links between the Commission and NGOs involved in fighting poverty were stepped up during the eighties, particularly, but not exclusively, through the existence of the first two poverty programmes (1975-1980 and 1985-1989). At the same time the Commission became increasingly aware of the role of NGOs in the fight against poverty and on the need for all actors to work together. It felt the need for a body that would be broadly representative at European level of the many groups involved on the ground.