If poverty is the ‘parent pauvre’ (poor relation) of the Lisbon Strategy, as recently stated by Commission President Barroso, it is about time the Heads of State and Government – at their Spring Summit next week – reaffirmed that significant progress is to be made to help and support those in poverty, who are still excluded from the ‘EU family’ project.
The President of the European Commission, Mr Barroso, has recently stated that “addressing poverty is the ‘parent pauvre’ (poor relation) of the Lisbon Strategy which now needs stronger political commitment and more emphasis”. The conclusions of the Employment and Social Policy Council of 10 March confirmed that “social objectives are a crucial component of the Lisbon strategy” and that “making a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty – including child poverty – and social exclusion by the year 2010 remains a central priority of the Lisbon strategy”.
In its response to the first round of National Reform Programmes and the Annual Progress Report, the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) shows that the introduction of these Programmes has not reached the objective of creating broader ‘ownership’ of the strategy and that the social cohesion objective has been to a large extent forgotten in this approach. The report outlines key recommendations for a better follow up and implementation of the revised Lisbon Strategy consistent with the abovementioned statement that “social objectives are a crucial component of the Lisbon strategy”.
According to EAPN, the conclusions of the next week’s Spring Council must respond to these challenges by:
- Reaffirming that the objective to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010 remains a key objective for the European Union that will be pursued with the highest level of political involvement;
- Ensuring that the implementation of the revised Lisbon Strategy and the revised open method of coordination on social protection and social inclusion are mutually reinforcing;
- Recognising that investment in high levels of social protection is an essential part of the European Social Model that should be pursued as an aim it its own right alongside the objective of ‘growth and better jobs’;
- Calling on the Member States to set in their National Action Plans on Inclusion 2006-2008 ambitious national headline or global targets for poverty reduction by 2010, and detailed targets to reduce poverty of the most excluded groups.
Such conclusions will be consistent with commitments made at previous Spring Councils and will send a message of continued political leadership for the Social Cohesion objective of the Lisbon Strategy.