As the internal EU debates about new priorities for Europe 2020 in the Annual Growth Survey 2013 commence, EAPN has published its Analysis of the 2012 National Reform Programmes (NRPs) and National Social Reports (NSRs): An EU worth defending: beyond austerity to social investment and inclusive growth. The report assesses the contribution of all areas in the NRPs and NSRs to effective policies for poverty reduction: macroeconomic, employment and social inclusion policies, Structural Funds and participation of stakeholders. The overwhelming verdict is a ‘fail’, in all fields.
Despite the promises of the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey priority 4 – to tackle unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis -, poverty has increased by 2 million since 2010, and the analysis of the NRPs demonstrates how macroeconomic focus on austerity, driven by economic governance, is directly undermining benefits and public services. Whilst poverty is mainly invisible in the reports, the main strategy offered is a job at any price, hardening activation, when there are few jobs to go and excluded groups are the last to access them. Investment in integrated, person-focussed strategies which promote active inclusion and provide access to rights, resources and services are largely absent, nor EU Structural Funds being used to promote them.
“The NRPs’ assessment shows that the European Union doesn’t care about poverty reduction. Its priority is deficit reduction through austerity which, particularly in Troika countries, is an explicit attack on welfare States. The “growth and jobs” rhetoric makes no difference for people who are currently bearing the brunt of the crisis – single parents, working poor, disabled, migrants, Roma, the homeless as well as youth and children”, said Sergio Aires, President of EAPN.
“All the relevant work in developing effective anti-poverty strategies through the Social OMC, now just seems forgotten. It more and more seems a deliberate decision to force people into poverty jobs and/or into destitution. It’s hard to see why people should defend an EU that offers a steady slide to more poverty, exclusion and inequality for the majority”, EAPN’s President added.
The democratic deficit is another major finding, with only 12 national networks having low-quality engagement in the NRPs, and minimal involvement of national parliaments, despite a specific partnership principle (Recital 16 in the Integrated Guidelines) and guidelines from the Commission.
“The only hope that Europe 2020 has of making progress on poverty and social objectives is if it actively engages concerned stakeholders and parliaments at the national level. We are the best guarantee of a Social Europe. But the reality of stakeholder engagement at the moment is little-more than lip-service, which EAPN members are increasingly unwilling to be a part of”, declared Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN.
EAPN Assessment Report’s Key Recommendations:
- Back Social Europe and restore balance between economic and social objectives.
- Re-focus on the poverty target through integrated strategies, prevent austerity from increasing poverty
- Launch a Social Investment Package to support Inclusive Growth
- Make Structural Funds a key instrument to deliver on poverty reduction
- Re-launch Europe 2020 as a democratic, participative social as well as economic process
- Seize the opportunity of the NSRs to launch a dynamic poverty strategy and process
- EAPN Report: An EU worth defending – beyond austerity to social investment and inclusive growth: EAPN analysis of the 2012 National Reform Programmes (NRPs) and National Social Reports (NSRs).
- See coming up EAPN’s Conference: Is the Europe 2020 delivering on Poverty? – 28th September 2012, Brussels.
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