EAPN and its members are concerned at the social and economic consequences of Covid19 on people at risk of poverty and social exclusion, their families, and other highly vulnerable groups, who are hit the hardest by the current crisis and need urgent support. We released a statement on 17 March, calling on all governments to coordinate their activities within their countries and across the EU to fight the further spread of the virus in order to protect the health and life of our citizens, and to protect and support the poor, sick and most vulnerable.
Today, we write to bring this statement to the attention of all European leaders.
We share 4 immediate priorities for Member States:
1. Urgent and coordinated health action, focusing on protecting the most vulnerable.
2. Urgent action to protect workers and ensure adequate income for all, including financial support to keep people in their jobs, with guaranteed income, increased minimum income support to address additional costs, guaranteed income support to self-employed or those in atypical work who are losing income due to the crisis.
3. Urgent action to protect people at risk of poverty, including suspension on evictions due to nonpayment of rents and mortgages, supporting payment of energy bills, and continued free provision of school meals for those who need it.
4. Actions to mitigate the social impact of containment measures on social isolation and loneliness, including urgent support to social NGOs who provide care and support services, and setting up ofnationwide helplines for social and psychological support to address an increased risk of domestic violence and abuse, especially against women, under quarantine conditions.
We reiterate that only countries with strong, universal public health care systems and strong social protection systems (including and minimum income schemes) can deal with such a crisis. We urge the European Council
to send a strong message, clearly prioritizing and committing to urgent actions to protect the most vulnerable and recognising the need to strengthen social protection systems in order to deal with future crises.