For EAPN, it’s really clear the COVID-19 crisis affects everyone. However, it hits the poorest and the most vulnerable the hardest. EAPN has therefore shared its concerns and recommendations in both a statement adressed to the EPSCO Council and a letter addressed to EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit.
We urged for urgent, coordinated action taken by EU and Member States to adequately protect and support the poor, the sick and highly vulnerable groups! EAPN and its members are concerned by the spreading of the Corona virus (COVID-19) across Europe and in particular about its social and economic consequences on people at risk of poverty and social exclusion and their families, but also highly vulnerable groups. With this statement we call on all governments to coordinate their activities within their countries and across the EU to fight the further spreading of the virus in order to protect the health and life of our citizens. This should be done with high attention for the situation and additional needs of poor(er) people and their families, but also for more vulnerable groups in view of their economic, social and health situations, in a spirit of solidarity and working towards the common good.
Points mentioned in the statement are underpinned by practical evidence the EAPN Secretariat got or could collect in the last two days. We only give some illustrations:
- Workers offering household services/domestic workers in Belgium and operating under a voucher system (titres services) cannot stop working and feel very exposed to the risk of infection. We have heard that some of them are denied the right to protect themselves. They could only stop working and be paid if their clients refuse to receive them in their household, but otherwise they will lose their income. On the other hand, should one of the workers in the sector of household services get infected, they also will be a serious threat to often frail and/or elderly persons.
- Another example are cleaning workers in companies: Those workers who are a (lone) parent of a school child are in put in a real dilemma, with schools being closed down and nobody looking for their younger children on the one hand and their obligation to go to work as otherwise they could lose their job. Parents staying at home in France, however, will get a replacement payment from the health insurance funds.
- Finally, as explained above, full cooperation and coordination between governments and social partners is needed to help addressing the economic and labour-market related consequences of the pandemic. In Romania, however, the government set up an emergency committee and only invited the employers’ association to be part of it, but not the trade unions – this clearly is a wrong start and approach for EAPN.
This EAPN Statement also includes input kindly provided by FEANTSA and Eurodiaconia.
The statement is also available in Spanish here.
EAPN Open letter to EU leaders on Covid-19
EAPN wrote a letter to the European Council urging them to clearly focus on protecting the most vulnerable from the impacts of Covid19. In this letter, we identified four main priorities for the Member States:
- Urgent and coordinated health action, focusing on protecting the most vulnerable.
- 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.
- Urgent action to protect people at risk of poverty, including ban on evictions due to non-payment of rents and mortgages, supporting payment of energy bills, and continued free provision of school meals for those who need it.
- 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 of nationwide helplines for social and psychological support to address an increased risk of domestic violence and abuse, especially against women, under quarantine conditions.
EAPN Letter to EU Commissioner Nicolas Schmit calling for Minimum Income Framework Directive
EAPN also wrote a letter to Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, asking him to provide leadership and to propose a Framework Directive on Minimum Income, as soon as possible, and to ensure that Minimum Income is in the European Commissions work programme. The letter has been supported by more than 20 MEPs and many other groups and academics.
EAPN Assessment: Putting Social Rights and Poverty Reducation at the heart of EU’s COVID-19 Response
EAPN published its members’ assessment of the 2020 Country Reports in the context of COVID19, monitoring progress on poverty and social rights through the Europe 2020 poverty target, the implementation of the EPSR and the SDGs as well as follow up on 2019 Country-specific Recommendations. This includes an assessment of progress on participation of PEP and NGOs in Member States and the reflection in the Country Reports.
EAPN in the Media
EAPN was featured in several newspapers: