On 16 and 17 June, the European Council will decide on key elements of Europe 2020 – the EU’s new strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The proposal from the recent Employment and Social Affairs Council of an EU target to reduce poverty and social exclusion by 20 million by 2020, based on an aggregate indicator (at risk of poverty, material deprivation and jobless households) will be central to the discussion at the Council.
There can be no sustained exit strategy from the crisis without an exit strategy from poverty. This was the message from the recent EAPN General Assembly (10-12 June) to the Heads of States in advance of their June Council. EAPN delegates to the GA coming from 26 countries told of their dismay as most Member States are currently planning drastic austerity measures to recoup public deficits, which result in the poor having to pay for the crisis.
“The EU will not be credible in setting a target to reduce poverty if together they don’t try to identify more equitable exit strategies from the Crisis” said Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN.“More equitable taxation policies, including taxes on financial transactions, serious efforts to tackle tax fraud and evasion and a fairer sharing of the wealth by investing in social protection and ensuring wages that lift people out of poverty are the types of proposals needed to ensure a sustained exit from the crisis” added Mr Horemans.
EAPN urges the European Council to adopt an ambitious target in the fight against poverty and to move forward on agreeing national targets which are consistent with the EU target.
“The EPSCO proposal to reduce poverty by 20 million can be made to work – if Governments are really serious about taking actions to reduce poverty and inequality, to tackle material deprivation and joblessness” said Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN. “The agreement of an EU target to reduce poverty would be a good day for Europe but the day that real action plans to reduce poverty are implemented in each Member States is the day we really look forward to” concluded Mr Farrell
EAPN in its letter sets out 4 key demands for Prime Ministers and Heads of States:
- Take urgent action to prevent the increase of poverty and social exclusion through proposing equitable solutions and increasing social investment rather than cuts in social protection systems and public services.
- Agree an ambitious European Poverty Reduction Target as a concrete step towards the eradication of poverty that is followed up by national targets that are consistent with the European target.
- Ensure that the Social Guideline goes beyond employment and that social objectives are mainstreamed throughout the Europe 2020 strategy.
- Embed and support active partnership with civil society organisations from the start – based on recital 14 of the Employment Guidelines.
- EAPN’s full demands in EAPN’s letter to Prime Ministers and Heads of States prior to the June Council
- EAPN’s letter to the EPSCO Council