Prior to the Spring European Council of 22-23 March 2005, which will take a crucial decision on the future of the Lisbon Strategy, the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) has sent a letter to EU Prime Ministers and Heads of State to urge them to confirm that Social Cohesion remains a priority objective of the Lisbon Strategy. To support this call, EAPN National Networks are organising activities and events on and around the 21st of March, proclaimed as a European Day of Action by EAPN.
“At this historic moment in the life of the European Union, with citizens being asked to accept a Constitutional Treaty for the EU, the political message that social cohesion is no longer an immediate or priority objective for the EU is not the one that is likely to bring the EU project closer to its citizens”, writes Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN, in his letter to the Heads of State and Government. EAPN has therefore urged them to take a decision which:
- Confirms that Social Cohesion remains a priority objective of the Lisbon Strategy,
- Maintains a broad understanding of the concept of social cohesion built on a reinforced Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in the areas of Inclusion, Pensions and Health Care,
- Maintains these OMC processes within the Lisbon Strategy and its implementation mechanisms, including its overall management by the European Council,
- Identifies an adequate headline target, on progress in relation to Social Cohesion and the fight against poverty, against which progress with this strategy can be measured.
EAPN stresses that this concern with the direction for the Lisbon Strategy proposed by the European Commission is also shared by other social NGOs, the Trade Unions, many members of the European Parliament, as well as all those concerned about the European Social Model. Following from the recent Employment and Social Policy Council, EAPN has detected that a number of EU Member States including France, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Hungary and Austria, are searching for a political solution which would address such concerns.
EAPN in action!
The European Day of Action – "’Make or Break’ Social Europe – Let’s defend the 68 million people who live facing poverty in the EU” is set for Monday 21 March, the eve of the Spring Council Meeting, and will aim to support the call for maintaining Social Cohesion and the fight against poverty as a top priority for the EU.
Several EAPN National Networks and other actors are organising various events and activities, including the following:
In Ireland, the ‘Community Platform’ – of which EAPN-Ireland is an active member – has approached the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) about the Government’s position on Lisbon. The latest news is a strong statement from the Oireachtas (Parliamentary) Committee on European Affairs that “each Government Department should give appropriate weight to the social dimension of the Lisbon Agenda in particular in the context of the mid-term review”. This followed a couple of sessions with the Community Platform.
In Malta, the EAPN National Network has sent a press release, launched an email campaign to raise awareness on EAPN concerns, and sent a letter to the Prime minister, to the Minister for Social Policy, to the leader of Opposition, to the Unions, and to the Social Affairs Committee – which EAPN-Malta held a meeting with. Thanks to this campaign, the Network has managed to get a meeting with the Prime Minister on 17 March to present EAPN’s recommendations for the Spring Council.
The Luxembourg network is organising a press conference on 17 March to present the European Day of Action, and the new EAPN-Luxembourg website http://www.eapn.lu/ as a contribution to this Day.
In Spain, the EAPN National Network had a meeting on 10 March with the Secretary of State for Social Services to explain the EAPN position on the Lisbon Strategy, the Commission’s proposal and the Spring Council. The Secretary of State told EAPN-Spain that the Spanish Government is working in the same direction. EAPN-Spain has also sent letters to the regional governments, Spanish MEPs and political parties.
The Belgian network has sent a letter to the Belgian Prime Minister. In his reply, he has expressed a position in favour of the maintenance of the three pillars of the Lisbon Strategy. The Network is also thinking about organising an event on 21 March and, possibly, taking part in the Euro-demonstration of 19 March in Brussels.
Die Armutskonferenz (EAPN-Austria) is organising a press conference on 21 March. EAPN Czech Republic has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and to the representative of Czech Republic to the EU.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: www.eapn.org