On the day where the European Union is celebrating Europe Day, an occasion supposed to “bring Europe closer to its citizens”, the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) sent a letter to José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, to express its serious concerns about the lack of respect for the consultation process that the Commission launched on the future social policy agenda for the EU.
President Barroso, speaking at the Social Agenda Forum on 6 May announced that the Commission “concluded the consultation process last November by setting out, in our “Social Vision”, first orientations for a modern policy response”. He added: “All of this has been done after listening carefully to you, the stakeholders”.
This declaration came as a surprise to EAPN and to many social actors as the consultation process on the future social policy agenda for the EU officially ended on 15 February 2008.
“Given that most submissions arrived towards the end of the consultation process the assertion that the Commission listened carefully to the stakeholders rings hollow”, commented Fintan Farrell, the EAPN Director.
EAPN and others were further dismayed when reading the draft report on the public consultation the Commission presented at the Social Agenda Forum. This report seems to be based less on the questions asked in the consultation process but rather it is shaped to reflect the November 2007 “Social Vision” Communication.
“From the consultation process it is now clear that there is a big divide between the Commission’s vision for a Social Europe and the views of social actors”, insisted Mr. Farrell. “The concerns of eradicating poverty and social exclusion, ensuring respect for fundamental rights and achieving greater social cohesion are all slipping down the EU’s agenda.”
EAPN in its letter called on President Barroso to clarify the procedures under the consultation process and to ensure that it respects the Commission’s own guidelines on consultation. EAPN also called on the President of the Commission to respond to the growing gap between social actors and the Commission with regards to the future social policy agenda of the EU.
The EAPN letter to President Barroso “A flawed consultation process and a social vision out of line with the views of social actors”
The Commission staff working paper “Draft report on the Public Consultation on Europe’s Social Reality and on a New Social Vision for the 21st Century Europe”
For further information, please contact Audrey Gueudet (Information Officer) or Fintan Farrell (Director), tel. +32 2 226 58 50 – fax. +32 2 226 58 69 – E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: www.eapn.org