EAPN’s annual conference was on 15 June, under the title Learning from the past to Beyond 2020 – What EU strategy to fight poverty, exclusion and inequality?
The conference afforded an opportunity to exchange together on the following questions:
- What integrated strategy should the EU propose to effectively fight poverty? What can we learn from the past? What do people in poverty want and expect from the EU? How does this connect to the European Pillar of Social Rights?
- How should this strategy be mainstreamed into a post 2020 strategy? Can the Sustainable Development Goals offer a better and more operational framework to take over from Europe 2020? Should this be through a re-vamped European Semester? Or another process?
- How should we mobilize for this in the context of the Future of Europe?
EAPN’s position and key messages on a post-2020 strategy to fight poverty and social exclusion were presented, which emerged from workshops with EAPN members, including people experiencing poverty:
The EU needs an explicit, rights-based integrated anti-poverty strategy based on participation and backed by EU funding, to make progress on poverty
The post Europe 2020 agenda must build on Europe 2020 targets and deliver an ambitious social, sustainable and democratic vision for Europe! Agenda 2030 and SDGs could help!
The European Pillar of Social Rights must be seized as an opportunity, but will need concrete implementation, and a key role for civil society to get results!
Support for Future of Europe depends on an ambitious 6th Scenario, capable of winning back trust in the EU
- Presented ideas & messages from EAPN from an internal session of members, including input from people experiencing poverty;
- Got feedback & debate with the European Commission & Social Protection Committee;
- Got responses from other Civil Society Organisations & partners;
- Gave special attention to the SDG agenda; the follow up on the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the implications of the Future of Europe proposals, in trying to move forward for a transformative social and sustainable framework for beyond 2020.
The current Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth set a target to reduce poverty by at least 20 million by 2020, delivered through the coordination cycle of the European Semester. The strategy has strikingly failed to deliver so far, with 1 in 4 people now in poverty and social exclusion, an increase of 4.8 million since the target was set, with only small signs of decrease since 2014. And in the process, civil society’s role has been marginalized, crucially. The EU are now debating the future of Europe and a strategy for beyond 2020.
The European Pillar of Social Rights seems to present an opportunity, although its impact on poverty reduction is unclear. The need to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the EU, committing to end poverty, also seems to offer hope, as long as it supports upwards social convergence. However, in a context of increasing anti-EU feeling, the EU is tending to stick to narrow internal market priorities, with social priorities sidelined.
EAPN’s view is different. Unless the EU can recover a ‘social heart & brain’ and ensure an effective participation of people experiencing poverty and their organisations, it will be increasingly difficult to get support from people on the ground for the EU. We must develop a positive vision of Social Europe, with concrete proposals and an effective rights-based strategy to fight poverty.
Programme + background note
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Photo: © Rebecca Lee, EAPN
This event was supported by the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI” (2014-2020). The information contained does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the European Commission. For further information please consult: http://ec.europa.eu/social/easi.
Given the focus of the forthcoming policy conference in June, EAPN decided to host a capacity building webinar for members, to enhance understanding of the SDGs. Here are the key documents:
- The story of the 2030 agenda and the SDGs – presented by Naiara Costa, Director, International Secretariat Together 2030
- What is the 2030 agenda? What are the SDGs? – presented by Isabela Cunha, Programme Consultant at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
- How EAPN Finland has been working with the SDGs – presented by Jiri Sironen.
- How European Organisation member FEANTSA has been working with the SDGs was presented by Freek Spinnewijn, Director (see notes below)
- What role could/should the 2030 Agenda/SDGs play at the European and national level? – presented by Barbara Carraciolo, Solidar / SDG Watch Europe Steering Committee member
- For EAPN, what role could/should the 2030 Agenda/SDGs play at the European and national level? was presented by Sian Jones, EAPN Policy Coordinator (see notes)
- Notes of the webinar, including the discussion and further Q&A