In a letter sent to EU Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs, the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) calls on the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council due to take place on 22 February, to give a real meaning to the 2006 Spring Council conclusions that “the Lisbon Strategy is at the service of social cohesion”.
“6 years after the introduction of the Lisbon Strategy, EAPN members are highlighting a reality of increasing levels and intensity of poverty and inequality, erosion of right-based approaches and declining confidence in the ability of our political institutions to safeguard social cohesion”. declared EAPN Director Fintan Farrell.
EUROSTAT figures, national statistics, numbers of working poor, or of people accessing food banks or minimum income schemes, tend to confirm EAPN’s view.
However Mr Farrell added that “EAPN members are also convinced that this reality is not a reason to abandon the EU commitment to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty but rather that it is time to step up a gear in the fight against poverty by intensifying efforts in the OMC on Social Protection and Social Inclusion and by putting the fight against poverty at the heart of the Lisbon strategy” He also added that “the Commission must in the coming year make a clearer assessment of the quality and degree of implementation of the National Action Plans on Inclusion as part of the OMC on Social Protection and Social Inclusion. This must go hand in hand with improving the institutional mechanisms that link the Lisbon strategy to the OMC. The onus is on the EU to demonstrate to all how Lisbon will deliver on social inclusion priorities and the eradication of poverty by 2010 (the so called ‘feeding out’)"
“Many EAPN National Networks are frustrated with the increasing imposition of compulsive employment activation measures which do not necessarily improve the situation of people living in poverty as the key focus in addressing poverty in most Member States. Instead “Member States must intensify their efforts to follow up on the ‘active inclusion’ approach which combines adequate income, access to quality services and positive activation measures, as outlined in the recent Commission Communication,” said Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN. However he added that “social policy tools alone will not be enough to address poverty and that other policies, in particular economic policies, and structural funds programmes must also play their part”.
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