While welcoming the renewed commitment by EU Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs to make a decisive impact on social exclusion and poverty, EAPN is seriously concerned about the introduction of the confusing concept of “minimum resources” instead of the well understood concept of “minimum income” in the conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council which took place on 22 February.
“The conclusions of the Council has mixed messages for people living in poverty”, said Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN. “Positively you had a renewed determination to give more visibility of the social dimensions in the second cycle of the Lisbon Strategy. The importance of social cohesion was emphasised and the commitment that Lisbon should make a decisive impact on social exclusion and poverty was strongly restated. These conclusions and more concrete commitments to give effect to the conclusions must be a priority in the Spring Council conclusions.”
“However”, added Mr Farrell, “in the detail of the conclusions, the introduction of the confusing concept of “minimum resources” instead of the well understood concept of “minimum income” is a cause of serious concern for the poorest in Europe.”
Minimum income schemes are schemes of last resort and therefore are a life line for the poorest in Europe. The vast majority of EU member States have such schemes, though the accessibility and adequacy of the schemes vary enormously. The European Union has strongly encouraged Member States to implement Minimum Income Schemes since a Recommendation on the subject was issued in 1992.
It is therefore a cause of serious concern that the Council conclusions raise doubts about the importance of such schemes. If the term of “minimum resources” covers minimum income plus other benefits, then this should have been stated clearly in the conclusions.
“EAPN will seek clarification on this issue with the President of the Council, German Minister Muntefering, and with Commissioner Spidla”, Fintan Farrell declared. “EAPN will also be seeking public reassurance that the EU continues to recognise and strongly encourages the Member States to have accessible and adequate Minimum Income schemes consistent with human dignity.”
For further information, please contact Audrey Gueudet (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