EAPN officially launched yesderday two new books aimed at contributing to the general debate on the future of Europe: a book entitled ‘The EU We Want’ and a comprehensive ‘Manual on the management of the EU Structural Funds’. This launch took place in Brussels, at the premises of the Austrian Permanent Representation.
This book based on the experience of those fighting poverty and social exclusion is a unique contribution to the current debate about the future of the European Union. It sets out to describe the present reality of the fight against poverty and social exclusion in the EU while at the same time illustrating, through personal stories, part of the experience which lies behind the shocking reality, that at least 72 million people face poverty in the EU Member States, according to Eurostat figures.
There are two parts to this publication – printed in English and French:
- Part one seeks to give a broad overview of the development of EU anti poverty and social inclusion policies and to present statistics that help to give a view on the extent of the problem of poverty.
- Part two includes a series of essays which provide evidence that there is a dramatic political failure to efficiently fight and prevent poverty and social exclusion both within and outside of the EU, and a series of portraits of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion.
The questions raised by the contributors are not just how to be competitive in a globalised economy but rather what type of development model can be pursued which is not dependent on creating enormous inequalities in our societies. These are questions that go to the very heart of what type of society we want to defend and build. Finding answers to these questions requires the active participation of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion, as the chapter in this book on participation suggests.
This comprehensive manual is concerned with how NGOs may best influence the management of the Structural Funds so that they may be effectively directed toward the reduction and elimination of poverty and social exclusion in Europe.
It is neither a policy document on the Funds, nor simply a guide as to how NGOs may be smarter at obtaining the Funds. Instead, it looks at the way in which the Structural Funds are designed, planned, publicised, delivered, monitored and evaluated – in other words how they are managed and how NGOs may play their part in that process. The manual is rooted in the practical, on-the-ground experience of NGOs in the current round of the Funds (2000-6) and looks forward to the new programming period (2007-2013). Examples from different states are cited or summarised at frequent intervals.
The main chapters of the manual take the following form:
- The Structural Fund framework under a number of key headings: information, planning and partnership, social inclusion, monitoring and evaluation, technical assistance;
- The reality, for NGOs combating poverty and social exclusion, based on the experience of EAPN members in the different states. The manual gives practical detail and tries to convey the situation on the ground;
- Suggestions, in the form of a checklist, of action which social inclusion NGOs could take to ensure their participation in the management of the Structural Funds. The checklists are at the end of each chapter;
- Additional information and good practice provided in panels.
The second edition of the EAPN Manual on the management of Structural Funds, printed in English and French, has been publicised on the European Commission ‘Inforegio’ website as “a fresh look at Structural Funds management”.