Today, EAPN has sent a letter to President Barroso, following the informal Council held on 11 February and the recent comments made by the Commission that appear to give rise for hope that the fight against poverty and social exclusion could find a prominent place within the Europe 2020 strategy.
However, as EAPN points out, the reduction of poverty and social exclusion needs a target, and an ambitious one…
That would also mark a significant response to the input of social NGOs to the consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy and a significant step forward during this 2010 European Year combating poverty and social exclusion.
“The proposal to establish the fight against poverty and social exclusion as one of 9 key flagship projects within the Europe 2020 strategy gives some room for hope, but it requires that the EU leaders take a step forward and establish a target for the reduction of poverty based on the agreed relative poverty* indicator as part of the EU 2020 strategy”, said Fintan Farrell, Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) when speaking at their conference on the Europe 2020 strategy organised on 19 February in Dublin. “Such a target must be set within the overall goal to eradicate poverty, must be ambitious and must be accompanied by a set of agreed complementary targets established at National level to ensure a balanced progression towards meeting the overall target” added Mr Farrell.
In its letter, EAPN recalls that the reduction of at-risk-of-poverty level depends on narrowing the inequalities’ gap. So far, growth policies haven’t succeeded in reducing poverty and have too often contributed to widening the inequality gap, undermining social cohesion. Pointing out that ‘More equal societies are better for everyone’, EAPN considers that this awareness must inform all the actions under the Europe 2020 strategy including choosing the agreed EU relative poverty indicator when setting the headline target for the reduction of poverty.
“The establishment of an ambitious target for the reduction of poverty is needed to give political momentum to the fight against poverty, following 10 years of stagnation in poverty levels in the EU and would send an important political signal to the European citizens that the EU is serious about the commitment to eradicate poverty”, said Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN. “However it is important that the target also ensures progress in the fight against the growing levels of inequality, which have had such a damaging impact on all sectors of our society. The target must also be linked to a clear set of policy measures and actions including the follow up of the Active inclusion Recommendation, if it is to be more than just a good intention”, concluded Mr Horemans.
* Relative poverty corresponds to the situation of people living below the relative poverty threshold, i.e. 60% of the median equivalised household income. Measures of relative poverty are almost the same as measuring income inequality: If a society gets a more equal income distribution, relative poverty will fall.