The European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) officially launched on 12 September a new booklet entitled “Voices from the Poverty Line: Jobs and unemployment in the EU”. Hosted by Irish MEP Proinsias de Rossa, this launch has taken place in the premises of the European Parliament (Brussels) with Members of the European Parliament, European Commission officials and NGO representatives attending.
“This booklet tells the stories of real lives, which are experiencing the effect of EU policies on the ground in different Member States”, said Fintan Farrell, EAPN Director. “But when you read these stories, you see the connection with key EU level debates: concerning defending an adequate minimum income capable of supporting a dignified lifestyle, the need for quality services, comprehensive approaches not only to work but to inclusion, effective measures that tackle the blatant discrimination that prevents so many groups: migrants, disabled, older people etc. from accessing decent jobs.”
“It was never the intention to sacrifice social inclusion at the altar of Lisbon”, Robert Strauss, Head of the European Employment Strategy Unit in the Commission said. “The “Growth and Jobs” Strategy aims to promote employment as one of the best means of escaping poverty and social exclusion, but the Commission is fully aware that the best road to inclusion needs to take a broader approach: a combination of active labour market policies, modern social protection systems and access to services, as set out in the Commission’s recent Communication.”
Ferry from Sweden and Frederic from France, two of the eight men and women whose stories provide the heart of the new EAPN booklet, took this occasion to share their experience and their concerns with the audience.
Frederic described the importance of the role of the local employment agencies and local NGO’s within the context of “good “ activation policies. “Through their support, counselling and training, they enabled me to rebuild my confidence, gain new skills and get work“, he said.
As well as direct testimonials, this new EAPN booklet provides valuable insights into national employment contexts. The Commission and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in their contribution to the booklet present their perspectives on the key issues raised: the impact of Make Work Pay strategies on the poor, the implications of new Flexisecurity approaches, the plights of the working poor, the continuing barriers of discrimination and racism in access to employment and services…