On the 15th July, President Barroso made his maiden speech to the first plenary of the European Parliament. He highlighted the need for urgent action on tackling the “worst financial and economic crisis in living memory, which continues to have devastating effects within our communities and families” and climate change.
However, the measures proposed focus primarily on short-term damage limitation: keeping people in employment, without strong safeguards to ensure the quality or sustainability of the jobs; defence of employment protection rights, without reference to the broader impact of the crisis and the need to strengthen social protection systems and the EU social model.
“There still seems to be a refusal to talk about the broader social impact, particularly the impact on poverty, exclusion and rising inequality. Where are the measures to respond to people’s needs on housing, debt, cuts in services – to build on the Social Protection Committee’s important analysis? Where is the commitment to strengthen social protection and particularly minimum income, to provide an essential floor for renewed confidence. Where are the meausures to defend and create quality jobs, and to ensure that there is genuine access for people already discriminated against when accessing jobs?“, highlighted Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN.
Although President Barroso emphasizes the need to develop a “new economy” putting the values back at the heart, based on opportunity, responsibilty and solidarity, there is no evidence as yet that this will start by implementing the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and developing a strategy which puts safeguarding public good above market freedom, reduce inequality and promote social cohesion.
EAPN remains to be convinced that these proposals will not be just more of the same.
See EAPN Letter to Barroso and Chairs of Political Groups, EP 10 July 2009.