“Tackling poverty and inequality also involves taxation, health, education, employment and economic policy. (…) We also need to look at the European Platform Against Poverty itself and how we can encourage greater participation in it. Policy must be designed and implemented in close cooperation with social-service providers, the social partners, civil society and people experiencing poverty.” “Events like today’s one help sharpen our view on how we can move forward and make progress in terms of reducing poverty”, said Commissioner László Andor for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.
The Europe 2020 Strategy launched in 2010 is approaching its midterm review (2015) in a context of general failure: poverty, exclusion and inequalities have increased dramatically. Whereas the Strategy had set the target to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty in 10 years (2010-2020), 6,6 million more people have fallen into poverty in the last 4 years. Nearly 125 million people live in or are at risk of poverty. There is also a growing disaffection with the role of the EU, seen to be supporting austerity policies and with concerns over democratic legitimacy.
EAPN highlighted the main shortcomings of the Europe 2020 process and concrete proposals for change, developed in its Assessment of the 2014 National Reform Programmes (NRP) From Austerity to Inclusive Growth – What Progress? and in its position paper on the Midterm Review Can the Strategy be made fit for purpose enough to deliver its promises on poverty reduction?, developed with its members and based on EAPN’s history of engagement with the Strategy, particularly at the national level.
“For EAPN, the central challenge is clear. Before it is too late it’s time to get serious about one of the greatest challenges to our Democracy: poverty and the growing levels of inequality in the EU. Europe 2020 and its targets must be put back at the heart of the European Semester, and give priority to a balanced social and economic approach that can deliver on its promises of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. We need an explicit integrated EU Strategy capable of reducing poverty and social exclusion, as well as emergency Marshall-type plan to invest in quality jobs, services and social protection” said Sérgio Aires, President of EAPN.
“We also need to see how we progress towards social standards, with a framework directive on minimum income, effective use of the 20% funding allocated for poverty and a new poverty programme that finances local social innovation with grassroots actors. Most importantly, we need real commitment and concrete guidelines to guarantee real stakeholder dialogue to develop a living strategy, that listens to people on the ground rather than handing-down already-agreed policies”, Sérgio Aires added.
The seminar provided an open space for dialogue with academics, including Bart Vanhercke, Director of Observatoire Social Européen (OSE), with EU officials, including Lieve Fransen, Director of Europe 2020 Social Policy in DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, as well as a roundtable discussion with representatives from the Social Protection Committee, the European Parliament, the European Commission, ETUC and NGO Stakeholders involved in the EU Alliance for a Democratic, Social and Sustainable Semester, also called Semester Alliance.
Notes for editors:
- Programme of the debate and Background information
- EAPN’s Input to the Mid-Term Review of the Europe 2020 Strategy Can the Strategy be made fit for purpose enough to deliver its promises on poverty reduction?(October 2014)
- EAPN’s Assessment of the National Reform Programmes 2014 From Austerity to Inclusive Growth – what progress?(October 2014)
- Figures on poverty: European Commission Eurobarometer 81 – first results (main report) – latest figures from July 2014 – figures concerning poverty on pages 26-27. The Annex can be foundhere with other the other reports.
- NEW! Updated EXPLAINER on Poverty and Inequality in the EU (September 2014)
- The Commission’s Taking Stock assessment of the Europe 2020 process, with a public consultation launched in May, March 2014
- See the website of EU Alliance for a Democratic, Social and Sustainable Semester, also called Semester Alliance: http://semesteralliance.net/
For further information and interviews, contact Sian Jones (Policy Coordinator)firstname.lastname@example.org, (Tel. +32 2 226 58 50 – or Nellie Epinat (Communications officer), email@example.com (Tel. +32 498 44 13 66).
The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) is the largest European network of national, regional and local networks, involving anti-poverty NGOs and grassroots groups as well as European Organisations, active in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. It was established in 1990.
EUROPEAN ANTI-POVERTY NETWORK
RESEAU EUROPEEN DES ASSOCIATIONS DE LUTTE CONTRE LA PAUVRETE ET L’EXCLUSION SOCIALE
SQUARE DE MEEUS, 18 – 1050 BRUXELLES – TEL : 0032 2 226 58 50 – FAX : 0032 2 226 58 69