In a letter sent today to the EU Heads of State and Government, the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) states that no place for social inclusion within the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy would devalue the Spring Council conclusions and social commitments in the Sustainable Development Strategy.
The Spring Council 2006 conclusions reiterated that “growth and employment are at the service of social cohesion”. The last Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council of 1-2 June 2006 stressed that “the social dimension of the Sustainable Development Strategy must be strengthened by ensuring close cooperation with the existing processes under the open method of coordination (OMC) in social protection an social inclusion, and the revised Lisbon strategy”.
However these clear political commitments become meaningless when within the Commissions road map for “Further steps in implementing the revised Lisbon strategy” there is no reference made to the OMC on Social Protection and Social Inclusion. Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN, requests that “the conclusions of the forthcoming Council addresses this contradiction and insists that the implementation reports on the revised Lisbon strategy includes a specific section on ‘feeding in and feeding out’ in relation to the OMC on Social Protection and Social Inclusion”.
A worrying road map
This lack of visibility for the social inclusion perspective in the Lisbon strategy follow up becomes even more worrying when the road map clearly identifies the importance of linking the Lisbon strategy to the future Structural Funds programmes. The absence of visibility for the OMC on Social Protection and Social Inclusion in the revised Lisbon strategy is likely to severely restrict the ability of the Structural Funds to be an effective tool to contribute to social inclusion and to contribute to the objective of making a decisive impact of the eradication of poverty by the year 2010.
“This lack of consistency and commitment, to concrete EU level coordination to ensure that social concerns are at the heart of EU policies and actions, is also closely related to the concerns which have emerged during the period of reflection on the future of the EU Constitutional Treaty", adds Fintan Farrell. "The progress made on social issues in the Constitutional Treaty can not be lost in the efforts to find a solution to the current impasse but rather efforts should be made to see what further progress could be made in the Constitutional Treaty with regards to ensuring the ability of the EU to foster cooperation to protect and develop high levels of social protection and social inclusion within the EU Member States”.
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: email@example.com – Website: www.eapn.org