That was the question facing the 350 participants in the first annual convention of the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion in Krakow, Poland, on 17-18 October, as part of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October).
The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) already has an opinion on the matter: the poverty-reducing targets which the member states set in their national reform programmes are “too low and are below the share of the EU’s global objective, which should be attributed to them [to each state] given their population and the current risk of poverty”. In June 2010, the heads of state and government committed to reducing poverty and social exclusion by at least 20 million by 2020, based on three indicators.
Over a year later, the members of the EAPN particularly lament the lack of ambition of the objectives fixed by Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Romania.
The annual convention was a key measure of the communication The European platform against poverty and social exclusion: A European framework for social and territorial cohesion’, published in December 2010 by the European Commission. This event, co-organised by the Commission and the Polish Presidency, aimed to be broader than the traditional roundtable on poverty and social exclusion. It sought to analyse progress made in terms of poverty reduction, by examining the actions carried out by the platform and by presenting proposals for future measures.
There were three plenary sessions during the meeting: 1. the representatives of the member states discussed their respective experiences in terms of poverty and the objectives they have set in their national reform plans; 2. the Commission’s services discussed their work in the fields of poverty and inclusion and the way in which they had implemented the platform against poverty in 2011; and 3. the participants were asked to make proposals of action for the future during five parallel sessions – which namely concern ways of breaking the cycle of poverty, poverty among old people and the importance of education, training and employment.
This meeting was a unique opportunity for the EAPN to prevent the decennial 2020 strategy of the Union from increasing poverty rates. The EAPN calls on the annual convention to restore the balance between the 2020 strategy and economic governance, in particular by carrying out a study of the social impact of crisis measures and by integrating the objectives of inclusive growth in all the areas of national reform programmes. It also calls for the re-establishment of specific sub-targets. Lastly, the EAPN calls for the establishment of integrated approaches to tackle the multi-dimensionality of poverty and to ensure the participation of stakeholders and ensure that the Structural Funds effectively encourage inclusion.
“The convention must call for urgent action to stop the austerity measures hitting hardest the poor’ and for measures to restore balanced economic and social priorities, through investing in a social and sustainable Europe,” said Ludo Horemansof the EAPN.
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