“With 8 million more people in poverty since 2008, the poverty target is clearly in tatters, but it hardly gets a mention in the AGS. Just a repetition of the same tired formulas which clearly haven’t worked! When the President of the European Commission and the President of the EU Council recognize that the EU is not delivering on the fight against poverty, Social Ministers must act accordingly and say: enough is enough. They must demand that the EU rethinks the AGS and the Semester process to (re)focus on the poverty and other targets and take real action to stem the rising tide of people in poverty and to engage the people most affected. It will be difficult to understand and accept any other option”, said Sergio Aires, EAPN President.
“Most Social Ministers know what’s going on: the austerity attacks to social protection and social rights which the AGS supports in the name of ‘efficiency and competiveness’ are a major cause of rising poverty – they must have the courage to call for a stop to this and push for an integrated anti-poverty strategy, developed in partnership with NGOs and people experiencing poverty, as well as other stakeholders, that also prevents current economic policies and governance from inflicting more damage”, added Barbara Helfferich, EAPN Director.
The EPSCO Council will have a first exchange on progress and priorities for the Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Semester in their meeting on 09-10 December. In that regard, EAPN’s assessment is one of disappointment with what it considers a missed opportunity to restore credibility in Europe 2020 and the Semester process. Once again, the Annual Growth Survey package fails to re-focus on Europe 2020 and its poverty and social targets and lacks again integrated strategies to stem the rise in poverty or to deliver on their promises on greater democratic accountability and participation of stakeholders in the Semester, particularly at the national level.
Although Social Ministers have increasingly underlined the risks to social protection systems of the current austerity focus and the need for effective Social Impact Assessment before economic and other policies are planned, little concrete progress has been made on the EU Semester and Strategy, despite the new proposals on the Social Dimension of the EMU.
Social Ministers now have a key opportunity to make a difference by pushing for concrete changes to the AGS/Semester to demonstrate that it is capable of delivering on the poverty target and of inspiring confidence in the Semester process and the EU vision for a more Social Europe.
EAPN calls for
- A refocusing of the AGS and the Semester on Europe 2020 and its targets, developing with Member States an effective European integrated strategy to fight poverty and social exclusion for all;
- Explicit commitment to Social Investment and adequate universal social protection as essential pre-requisites for inclusive growth and recovery – with effective social impact assessment;
- Within the new round of the Structural Funds it will be crucial that under the explicit allocation for the fight against poverty (FSE) concrete guidelines and European monitoring should be put in place including common objectives, priorities and targets;
- New priority to promoting effective stakeholder engagement to increase the accountability and legitimacy of the Semester process at national as well as EU level, including NGOs and people experiencing poverty.
Notes for the editor:
- EAPN Letter to EPSCO Council – 9-10 December.
- See also EAPN former Press release on the Annual Growth Survey (17 Nov 2013) and letter to President Barroso (04 Oct 2013)
For further information, contact Barbara Helfferich (Director), firstname.lastname@example.org (Tel. +32 2 226 58 50 – fax. +32 2 226 58 69) – or Nellie Epinat (Communications officer), email@example.com (Tel. +32 498 44 13 66+32 498 44 13 66)