At a crucial time when the European Commission has embarked on a process of scrutinising Member States’ National Strategic Reference Frameworks and Operational Programmes for 2007-2013, the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) calls on the Commission to live up to its responsibility and make sure this new round enables the EU to make a decisive impact on poverty and social exclusion.
“EAPN is a firm believer in the potential of the Structural Funds to be effective and powerful instruments in the combating of poverty and social exclusion”, said Fintan Farrell, EAPN Director. “However, EAPN is concerned that the regulations, Community Strategic Guidelines and the spirit of the new programming period are being observed unevenly across the EU. Even more worryingly, a major opportunity to make a decisive impact on poverty may be undermined and lost.”
From the reports received by EAPN based on the experience of its members engaged with the funds, the following picture emerges:
Consultation with NGOs, along the line of the partnership principle, appears to be very limited;
Little attention has been given to social inclusion. When taken into account, there seems to be a risk that it is narrowed down to a labour market and activation approach which might not meet the needs of those most remote from the labour market;
Tools that have proved to facilitate access of those most remote from the labour market (such as global grants and technical assistance) are considered only in a minority of countries;
There is little evidence of the effective mainstreaming of the principles and type of activities supported by the EQUAL programme.
“The coming months are going to be crucial”, Mr. Farrell added. “EAPN hopes to see a positive picture of priority being given to social inclusion, a broad and deep consultative process in each Member State, the targeting of marginalised groups and communities, the use of global grants, the provision of technical assistance to assist social NGO participation and the enlistment of NGOs in the delivery of the new structural funds.”
Member States submitted early March their National Strategic Reference Frameworks and Operational Programme, outlining how they would apply the principles by which they would put the new round of Structural funds (2007-2013) into effects. The 27 National Strategic Reference Frameworks and more than 327 operational programmes need to be approved by the Commission within a few months.
European Commission: Structural Funds Regulations 2007-2013
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