“The European Council is going to discuss ways of strengthening economic governance and the priorities for the Semester – but this cannot mean just more austerity. Getting more balanced budgets doesn’t have to mean more spending cuts for the poor! What about increasing social investment and protection as an inclusive route to recovery? This would show that EU ministers really mean business seeing economic and social progress as two sides of the same coin!”, said Sérgio Aires, EAPN President.
Meeting on 19-20 December, EU Prime Ministers and Heads of State will have an exchange on economic and social policy in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Semesterand will discuss proposals strengthening economic governance, including the new Employment and Social Scoreboard, integrated for the first time in the Annual Growth Survey. The new Employment and Social Scoreboard could play a crucial role monitoring growing divergences across Europe in rising unemployment, poverty and inequality, but only if it goes beyond passive monitoring and it is used to trigger action, includingan integrated anti-poverty strategyand thereviewing of the negative impacts of macroeconomic policies.
“Heads of State must make sure that macroeconomic policies support effectively social inclusion and do not lead to more poverty! The yearly cycle of economic policy co-ordination could be used to make this happen, but only if we see PMs talking seriously about a Europe 2020 revision taking seriously he poverty target and how to achieve it in the framework of an European anti-poverty integrated strategy, as well as how to live up to their commitment of involving citizens, particularly those who are most suffering at the hands of economic governance without reference to social rights,”Sergio Aires added.
EAPN’s initial assessment of the 2014 Annual Growth Survey (AGS) is one of disappointment as a missed opportunity to restore credibility in Europe 2020 and the Semester Process, failing to re-focus on Europe 2020 and its poverty and social targets with convincing integrated strategies to stem the rise in poverty or to deliver on their promises on greater democratic accountability and participation of relevant grass-root civil society in the Semester, particularly at the national level. Economic governance must be used to ensure social as well as economic progress, if the credibility of the EU is to be reinforced.
EAPN calls for
- A refocussing of the AGS and Semester on Europe 2020, the failing poverty and social targets, developing with MS an integrated strategy to fight poverty and exclusion for all groups, based on access to rights, resources and services backed by EU funds, which form a legitimate basis for CSRs.
- Explicit commitment to Social Investment and adequate universal Social Protection as essential pre-requisites for inclusive growth and recovery, rather than viewed as a cost
- New Priority to promoting effective stakeholder engagement to increase the accountability and legitimacy of the semester process at national as well as EU level, including NGOs and people experiencing poverty developing common guidelines and action plan for meaningful engagement.
- An effective use of the employment and social scoreboard with automatic triggers for negative developments including rising poverty and inequality, leading to the re-appraisal of the negative impacts of current macro-economic and other policies, through ex-ante social/poverty impact assessment involving Social Ministries and DG Employment
Notes for the editor:
- EAPN Letter to General Affairs Council 17 December and European Council 19-20 December.
- EAPN Letter to EPSCO Council – 9-10 December.
- EAPN Key messages to the 3rd Annual Convention
- EAPN Press release on the Annual Growth Survey (17 Nov 2013) and letter to President Barroso (04 Oct 2013)
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