The continuing scandal of widespread poverty in a rich society, such as the European Union where 68 million people live in poverty, is intolerable. The next round of National Action Plans for Inclusion must move Europe substantially towards the agreed EU goal ‘to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010’. As the participants to the Liverpool EAPN General Assembly repeated: we cannot wait any longer!
Over 150 delegates from voluntary and community groups in the 25 Members States of the European Union, together with Bulgaria and Norway, met in the City of Liverpool for the 2005 General Assembly of the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) from 23 to 26 November. The Assembly took place during the UK Presidency of the EU, and offered anti-poverty activists the time to express their commitment to action as well as words in a region of the EU that has seen major investment from the European Structural Funds for more than a decade.
At a time when Member States are negotiating the future financial perspectives for 2007-2013, the Assembly gave attention to the Structural Funds but also considered issues around the social economy, minimum income and progress on the National Action Plans for Social Inclusion 2006-2008.
Delegates from all over Europe expressed their anger about the recent policy drift that weakens a balanced EU Lisbon strategy and therefore called on all relevant actors, in particular on the political leaders at EU and National level:
To ensure a strong focus on social inclusion and social cohesion in the National Reform Programmes which are a central component of the revised Lisbon Strategy.
To increase their commitment to the EU social inclusion strategy and the National Action Plans on social inclusion. These Plans need to be backed up by adequate financial investment to ensure their effectiveness and they should remain a central instrument to drive forward policies to fight poverty and social exclusion.
To ensure that the comprehensive and common objectives in the field of social inclusion, agreed by the Heads of State and Government at the Nice Council in 2000, remain at the heart of the proposal from the Commission to streamline the Open Method of Coordination on Social Protection and Social Inclusion.
To acknowledge NGOs as full partners in the Structural Funds management and delivery, which is essential to unleash the great potential of the Structural Funds to promote social inclusion and social cohesion within the EU.
For further information, please contact Vincent Forest (Information officer) or Fintan Farrell (Director), tel. +32 2 230 44 55 – fax. +32 2 230 97 33 – E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: www.eapn.org