On the eve of the EU’s Employment Committee meeting due to prepare input to the EU Spring Council, the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) urges Member States to put poverty and social exclusion back at the heart of the Lisbon Strategy.
Whilst 2007 may have been considered by the Commission to be a “year of delivery”, EAPN in its new report “Making Lisbon deliver for people experiencing poverty: EAPN response to 2006 Implementation Reports on the National Reform Programs” is clear: Lisbon has not yet “delivered” on improving social cohesion, ensuring better jobs or significantly reducing poverty and is not likely to do so, unless a radical re-think is carried out.
“Poverty seems to have slipped off the EU agenda, despite the commitment of the Spring Council this year to reaffirm the eradication of poverty as a central objective of Lisbon”, declared Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN. “EAPN National Networks and European organizations members highlight the increasingly limited economistic nature of the National reform programmes which show little concern to demonstrate how this new Lisbon vision can deliver social justice, decent jobs and a better life.”
Whilst all EAPN networks agree that supporting people in poverty into quality jobs is an essential tool for combating poverty, they are concerned by the dominance of measures which seem to throw back responsibility on the most vulnerable members of society to find a job at any price, rather than addressing how the economy and employers will create decent jobs and ensure take-up, particularly for the low-skilled.
They are also concerned about what will happen to the people for whom work is not a viable option. Without a strong commitment to ensuring a decent income, regardless of employment status combined with access to decent services, the strategies run the risk of hardening exclusion and exacerbating poverty.
The report also highlights the lack of broader, holistic approaches to empower excluded people. In most countries, the flexicurity approach has not led to improving social security or addressing issues of low pay or the working poor, calling into question if this is truly a balanced approach.
“2008 will be a crucial year, with the mid-term review of the Social Agenda and the Integrated Guidelines” said Ludo Horemans, President of EAPN. ‘We urge EU decision-makers to launch a comprehensive debate involving all stakeholders to assess the impact of the current Lisbon strategy on poverty and social exclusion and to take urgent action to reinforce its social pillar.”
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