In its analysis, EAPN judges the EU Constitutional Treaty in terms of whether it provides the legal and practical instruments, and shows the political intention, to eradicate poverty in the European Union and provide social rights and a voice to people experiencing poverty, social exclusion and discrimination. The intention is to contribute to an informed public debate about the Constitutional Treaty and in particular the aspects of the Constitution relating to social rights and the fight against poverty and social exclusion.
If the European Union is to retain the confidence of its peoples, it must show that it can respond to their needs. This is particularly true for those experiencing poverty, exclusion and inequalities.
Since the Treaty of Rome, the European Treaties have centred on market integration, and later monetary union and budgetary policy. This has been important in stimulating economic growth, but it has led to an imbalance between the economic and social sides of the European project which is not sustainable and is out of line with citizens’ demands.
EAPN, at EU and national level, has argued in successive Treaty negotiations, for:
- Naming the eradication of poverty and the fight against social exclusion as Objectives of the Union
- Putting in place practical mechanisms to enable the EU to eradicate poverty
- An enforceable Charter of Fundamental Rights, linking economic and social rights with political, cultural and other rights
- Greater transparency, accountability and involvement of civil society, particularly including the voices of people experiencing poverty, exclusion and inequalities and the NGOs in which they participate, in decision-making
In all of these areas, the draft Constitution represents an important but limited step forward.