EAPN responds to the EC consultation on Access to a Basic Bank Account
On 6th April, EAPN responded to the European Commission’s consultation on financial inclusion and access to a basic bank account. Stressing that time has come to “restore citizens’ confidence in the EU’s financial agenda….by putting the internal market at the service of public good”, EAPN calls on the European Commission to propose a Directive on Access to a Basic Bank Account. The latter should cover a number of key services and be accompanied by accessible, affordable, quality services. However, tackling financial exclusion implies looking much beyond access to a bank account. As EAPN underlines, urgent action is also needed to ensure fairer credit and lending practices, and tackle over-indebtedness.
Read EAPN’s full response.
EAPN’s Press Release: Spring Council fails to give an integrated social response to the crisis!
On 20 March, EAPN published a press release following the Conclusions from the Spring Council (19/20 March). For EAPN, these conclusions represent a disappointing narrowing of the focus of the EU economic recovery packages – prioritising financial regulation, employment and new investment rather than an integrated strategy to tackle the social impact of the crisis. The proposals on social impact primarily focus on employment, with only a passing reference to the "stabilising role of social protection systems" and the need to pay attention to the "most vulnerable and new risks of exclusion". But what about the impact on the 79 million people that are already at risk of poverty and exclusion?
Read full press release and Spring Summit Conclusions.
EAPN addresses Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn on social and employment issues
On Tuesday 31 March, EAPN attended a policy briefing meeting with Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. The Commissioner presented the work on enlargement in the past five years and made the point that enlargement shouldn’t be blocked, although some EU leaders should like to put the Enlargement process on hold until the EU starts to recover economically.
Discussions focused on political questions, but very little was said about social and employment issues. However, EAPN addressed Commissioner Rehn on the powers the EU really has in negotiating with the candidate countries on tackling poverty and reforming social welfare, when the EU has shown little courage to look at its own situation. Commissioner Rehn replied that a benchmarking system has been developed and proves to be more efficient than previous enlargement rounds, notably for Turkey. This question on the social chapter has been registered.
Dignity International Campaign (supported by EAPN)
Enter the Campaign Identity Contest – Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (India), the Four Slum Regional Network (Thailand), the Nairobi People’s Settlement Network (NPSN), Ekta Parishad (India), Union National dos Moradias Popular (Brazil), the European Anti Poverty Network, the International Alliance of Inhabitants, and Dignity International are preparing to launch a campaign on “Dignity for All” in October 2009. The Campaign will focus on pushing governments to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of people in urban and rural areas whose realities are currently being ignored by the state. These are people, families and communities that are either not taken into account by public policy or deliberately under attack by state or non state actors with the support of the state. This contest is for a campaign name and/or logo. The contest is open to anyone who would like to participate. Deadline for entries: 30 April 2009. For further details contact email@example.com
EAPN letter to the Spring Council: Take effective action now to limit social impact
Today EAPN sent its letter to the Prime Ministers, in advance of the Spring Council Meeting on the 19/20 March, highlighting EAPN members’ concerns on the social impact of the current crisis, for those in and outside work. They highlighted the need to take effective short-term measures which limit the immediate impact on people in poverty whilst making social investments for the future. These short-term measures must be linked to an open debate about longer term proposals on post 2010, learning from the failures of the "Growth and Jobs" Strategy to deliver inclusion even in times of boom. They must ensure the debate lead to a more cohesive, socially inclusive and sustainable EU – capable of meeting its goals to eradicate poverty and social exclusion.
EAPN has drawn particular attention to the need to ensure that the proposed May Jobs Summit moves beyond a narrow employment focus to become an Employment and Social Cohesion Summit. This should propose concrete solutions for reducing the social impact, by strengthening social protection and increasing social investment, as well as defending quality jobs. EAPN also urges the Council to ensure that NGOs and people experiencing poverty are actively engaged as stakeholders in the Summit and in the preparatory workshops.
Read EAPN’s letter. For more information, contact Sian.Jones@eapn.eu.
EAPN’s comment on the New Commission Communication for the Spring Council: "Driving European Recovery"
On the 4th March, the Commission published its updated proposals on the Economic Recovery Package, replacing the usual Lisbon report to the Spring Council. The new Communication is the next step in the Commission’s approach to the Crisis and builds on the November Communication.
What’s new? Its main new input is in providing detailed proposals to restore confidence in the financial sector, particularly through setting up a new financial supervisory framework (to be presented before the end of May 2009), filling in the gaps on EU or national regulation on hedge funds, private equity etc; and also measures to reinforce safeguards for consumers and investors.
In terms of the real economy, the proposals call for the implementation of the Economic Recovery Plan, but stress the need not to undermine the single market, i.e. against protectionism. Whilst the Commission supports member states measures to stimulate demand in key areas like raising skills, increasing investment in innovation, broad band, renewing existing transport and energy infrastructure, they underline that these measures should be only temporary.
The fourth pillar focuses as before on supporting people through the crisis. This prioritises defending existing jobs and ensuring reintegration in the labour market, whilst supporting the "most vulnerable" through increases in minimum income/wages, extended coverage on unemployment benefit/ tax rebates and measures against over-indebtedness and repossession. It also underlines the need to strengthen social protection and to invest in social and health infrastructure.
EAPN is consulting with its members on the impact of the crisis (See EAPN’s letters to the EPSCO and Spring Council and initial input to Economic Recovery Plan) and is preparing a position in response to the Communication.
See Commission’s Communication.
For more information contact Sian Jones, EAPN Policy Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org.
EAPN responds to the Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion
EAPN recently responded to the European Commission’s Green Paper on territorial cohesion, arguing that a sound development of territorial cohesion must go hand in hand with a better, stronger acknowledgement of social inequalities, as both tend to be mutually reinforcing. In particular, the contribution stressed that:
– The European model of territorial cohesion must be rebalanced with social equality given equal importance, weight and attention to regional and spatial equality;
– Social inclusion NGOs and people experiencing poverty and inequality must be at the heart of the delivery of the territorial cohesion agenda, governance and the institutions involved;
– Methods must be used that enable social inclusion NGOs to deliver that agenda effectively, such as representation on key policy-making bodies, participatory approaches in projects, global grants, technical assistance and full operationalization of the partnership principle.
More information can be found here.