EAPN welcomes the European Commission’s Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights, published on 4 March 2021. The Action Plan is the long-awaited follow-up to the promise that the unique European Social and Economic Model brings about shared prosperity and opportunities for all, proclaimed in 2017 by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. The Action Plan sets three major political targets in the areas of employment, skills, and social protection to be achieved by 2030 , including one headline target on poverty and social exclusion.
Poverty reduction target
This target aims to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by at least 15 million by 2030, out of which at least 5 million should be children. EAPN considers it essential that a poverty reduction target is one of the only three headline targets, however, the aim of reducing the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by at least 15 million by 2030 is a significant scaling back of the ambition of the Europe 2020 target of 20 million, especially in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.
For EAPN it is crucial that the Action Plan contains an initiative for a Council Recommendation on minimum income in 2022 to effectively support and complement the policies of Member States. Since this is no time for business as usual, EAPN strongly regrets thatthe Action Plan does not include a Framework Directive on Minimum Income, as a binding EU legislative proposal.
EAPN is also glad to see the Action Plan containing several initiatives relevant for the fight against poverty and social exclusion, such as an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and Council Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee, a European Platform on Combating Homelessness or an Action Plan on the Social Economy.
Deeper analysis to follow
Not least in the light of the devastating economic and social consequences we already have seen so far from the COVID-19 pandemic, in upcoming deeper assessments EAPN and its members will reflect on three key questions:
- Can the Action Plan deliver on these promises and expectations, when it comes to the much-needed fight against poverty and social exclusion?
- Can it help guarantee that everybody has the right and access to an adequate and enabling minimum income?
- Can the different key initiatives effectively contribute to an improved rights-based access to social protection and affordable public services, including on health, care, housing and energy?
EAPN is hopeful for a positive outcome regarding the Action Plan at the Social Summit in May 2021. As Europe is facing an unprecedented crisis, the Action Plan must play a crucial role in the fight against poverty and social exclusion in an integrated way to address the structural causes of poverty, effectively guaranteeing the right and access to an adequate and enabling minimum income, to social protection and to affordable public services.Read the full reaction