The shocking official figures of 72 million people living their daily lives in or at risk of poverty shows that the EU has failed in reaching the vision of a social Europe. This is why the participants to the Toledo EAPN General Assembly last week urged the European Union to “fundamentally rethink its economic and social policy if it is to achieve its stated objective to make decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010”.
Over 160 representatives of NGOs working with people experiencing poverty and social exclusion across Europe met in the City of Toledo (Spain) for the 2006 General Assembly of the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) from 5 to 7 October.
This year, the key theme was: “The EU we want”. “The EU needs to rethink its economic and social policy by ensuring a balance between the progress made in market and economic integration with cooperation to guarantee access for all to high levels of social standards and fundamental rights”, outgoing EAPN President Maria Marinakou declared.
Delegates from all over Europe therefore called on all relevant actors, in particular on the political leaders at EU and National level:
- To actively promote social cohesion and the eradication of poverty at national level, and to mainstream the fight against poverty into the activities undertaken during the 2007 EU Year of equal opportunities;
- To ensure that all asylum and immigration policies fully respect fundamental rights. In the context of the recent increased illegal immigration flow towards the EU, EAPN also calls on the EU to ensure a broader reflection on the causes of immigration, including the failure to meet the development aid target of 0.7% of GDP;
- To ensure that security is not forgotten in the Flexicurity debate. EAPN wants to see an EU where social protection is seen as a value in its own right and not just a tool for labour market integration and where well-designed activation programmes, which do not involve compulsion, accompany people in the transition from social assistance to decent work;
- To ensure that protection, regulation and distribution of “basic” goods and services that are essential to live a decent life are not only subject to “market freedoms” but are seen and respected as social rights, as a rich part of our cultural heritage and of the European Social Model;
- To reinforce genuine participatory approaches of people experiencing poverty adopted at all levels and by all actors, including a strong engagement in the preparation of the National Action Plans for inclusion.
Last but not least, to ensure that the planning of the 2010 EU Year against Poverty and Social exclusion is built on lessons learned from the Open Method of Coordination on social protection and social inclusion and on a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of the Lisbon Agenda on the fight against poverty.
The 2006 General Assembly of the European Anti Poverty Network was also the occasion to elect the new Bureau and Executive Committee of EAPN for the period 2006-2009. Ludo Horemans (Belgium) was elected President of EAPN and Michaela Moser (Austria), Sonja Wallbom (Sweden), Godfrey Kenely (Malta) and Izabella Marton (Hungary) as Vice presidents.
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: email@example.com – Website: www.eapn.org