The draft Joint Report was adopted by the Social Protection Committee on 22 January. The report is due for adoption at the EPSCO Council on 9 March. It highlights what little progress has been made on poverty, even before the crisis, despite the commitments of the Lisbon Strategy and the Social OMC. Although growth increased by 2.1% between 2001 to 2007, and jobless households declined (from 10.2% to 9.3%), 16% of the EU are still living at risk of poverty and 8% of workers still below the poverty line. The report’s key messages concentrate on the social impact of the crisis, underlining the need to “build on the values of solidarity (…) and allow social protection systems to play their role as automatic stabilizers”, as well as to use Structural Funds, and Comprehensive Active Inclusion Strategies to cushion the impact and provide the basis for recovery. The Report calls for more sustained efforts in implementing comprehensive strategies against child poverty, tackling homelessness and addressing the needs of new risk groups including Roma, migrants and the young.
EAPN welcomes the sense of urgency and the call for an adequate social response to the economic crisis as well as the recommendations on Structural Funds and Active Inclusion. However, we miss a key message about how to make progress on poverty and social exclusion and to deliver on the overarching objectives of the OMC. This will require strong political will to implement a more ambitious social inclusion strategy mainstreamed through the Lisbon Strategy which will implement targets on Poverty (EU and national), embed effective participation and governance at local/regional and national level and establish better mutual learning mechanisms, at the centre of a stronger OMC committed to reducing poverty.