Today the European Commission adopted the Annual Growth Survey 2019 (AGS) as part of the Autumn Package. EAPN is actively engaging in the ‘European Semester,’ at EU and national level, as the main EU process for economic and social coordination in order to achieve a reduction in poverty, social exclusion and to implement the Pillar of Social Rights. In October, EAPN sent a letter to President Juncker outlining our 6 key steps for change to get concrete results on poverty from the European Semester. In the coming weeks we will carry out a consultation with our members on the full Autumn package.
Does the AGS 2019 deliver? Our initial response is that the AGS 2019 takes some welcome steps towards increasing the focus on social rights and improving participation of civil society but falls short of rebalancing economic and social goals or delivering a concrete road map to deliver concretely on all social rights from the European Pillar of Social Rights, in the context of the SDGs. In order to achieve a Poverty Free Europe, we know that high level political commitments like the Pillar of Social Rights, the SDGs and the Europe 2020 poverty target must be translated into actions on the ground which create meaningful changes to the lives of those affected by poverty – and we are concerned that the AGS will not offer real answers to 113 million people still in poverty waiting for the EU to deliver on its promises of these political commitments.
“The problem is not that we run out of money occasionally. The real problem is that we live our entire lives this way and our children grow up in this too.” Person with direct experience of poverty – EAPN 2018 Poverty Watch Summary.
“Although the new AGS is a welcome step in the right direction, we are concerned the continuing dominant macroeconomic priorities still focused on growth, reducing costs on welfare states and ongoing austerity which prevent real progress on poverty and social rights. Our General Assembly in Vienna in September called for a change in approach, based on a recognition of the negative impacts of austerity and the pursuit of economic growth at the expense of people and the environment. The EU must truly commit to a Poverty Free Europe, based on a new development model with a renewed focus on inequality, poverty and guaranteeing well-being. The EU will need to send out stronger evidence of this if it’s to convince people on the ground that the ‘Social Triple A’ means more than words.” Leo Williams, EAPN Director
- the emphasis on reinforcing the social dimension and upward convergence of living and working conditions and the commitment to “turning the European Pillar of Social Rights into Action” and EU and national level;
- the recognition that growth has not benefited everybody equally and that persistent high levels of inequality are a major challenge;
- that although poverty has reduced to 113 million (2017), poverty reduction is too slow and has left key groups behind
- the recognition that tackling poverty and inequality requires inclusive and efficient tax-benefit systems, adequacy and coverage of benefits, wage growth, as well better tax collection and sharing of the tax-burden.
- The focus on access to quality education/training through the life cycle, to care services, and investment in affordable housing – those more details are needed
- The first mention of civil society in an AGS as a dialogue partner in order to gain legitimacy and ownership and “better socio-economic solutions”.