EESC’s Opinion on the European Platform Against Poverty and Social Exclusion was approved at the end of June. It was passed unanimously, with 3 abstentions. The Opinion is available in several languages on: http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.soc-opinions.14953.
Sian Jones, EAPN’s Policy Coordinator, was asked to contribute to the work of the opinion as expert for the rapporteur Maureen O’Neill (Scotland), together with Caritas and Henri Lourdelle from ETUC as experts for the Social Committee.
The EESC has advisory status on the Platform (as the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament), but is being wooed specifically by the Commission as a key actor representing civil society to play a key role in the Platform. EAPN’s concern is to ensure that this does not undermine the commitment to work directly with NGOs at national and EU levels.
Many of EAPN’s concerns are reflected in the opinion:
- Recognition of poverty representing a violation of human rights
- The need for policy coherence between economic and social measures and the need to ensure that austerity measures do not increase the risk of poverty
- The implementation of Active Inclusion as an integrated approach and adoption of a roadmap for implementation
- A stronger emphasis on creating quality, sustainable jobs and measures to counter in-work poverty encompassing living wages, good working conditions and minimizing poverty traps in the transition between welfare and work
- Stronger emphasis on reducing inequalities and enforcing fundamental human rights including income distribution
- Increased emphasis on lifelong learning
- The use of funding, particularly Structural Funds, targeted to poverty reduction, and emphasis given to simplifying procedures, increasing transparency and monitoring deliveryStrengthening the Social OMC, including National Strategies and National Action Plans for inclusion, and ensuring the participation of civil society stakeholders, including people experiencing poverty in structured dialogue at national and EU level, supported by appropriate EU funding
Some issues were not possible to get agreement on, notably on specific strategies for key target groups, ie homelessness, apart from child poverty and no explicit support for a framework directive on minimum income, but support for the EP’s call for a study of the impact of a legislative proposals to ensure an adequate income of at least 60% of median income in each Member State.