Brussels, 15 November 2012 – Next week, on 2Oth November, at the General Affairs Council meeting, the question on whether Member States are to respect the commitments they made when agreeing the EU poverty-target will finally get a clear answer: Prime Ministers of EU Member States will indeed seal the future of Structural Funds for the next programming period 2014-2020, either supporting or rejecting the European Commission’s proposal, strongly backed by the European Parliament and social NGOs, to increase funding for fighting poverty. This decision will have a great impact on over 115 million people officially recognised as living in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion, as well as on the EU citizens’ trust in their governments and in their response to the crisis. 20 Social NGOs have run a campaign coordinated by EAPN to urge Member States to support the Commission’s proposal, gathering over 11.300 signatures that will be handed over to the Council in front of the Council’s building the day before the meeting (19.11)*. They have also sent a joint letter to the General Affairs Council representatives.
“We’ve handed our signed petition to all Member States sitting in this Council – It is now up to them to take the EU population seriously and finally to start to respect the commitments they made regarding poverty-reduction”, said Heather Roy, Secretary General of Eurodiaconia, one of the organisations involved in this campaign. She added “they particularly have to respond to the millions of people in poverty and the million more to come if they continue to respond to the crisis without any regard to the social consequences of their decisions”.
“We need an intelligent debate and agreement about the future budget for the EU” said Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN. He added, “Prime Ministers who just say we need to reduce the budget are blind to the finances needed for a real solidarity-based EU and avoid any sincere debate about what sort of Europe we need and what finances are needed to deliver such an EU, including how to use better existing finances”.
“These narrow nationalistic perspectives play a dangerous role, feeding the worst feelings and attitudes, dividing people, regions and countries, putting at risk social cohesion, democracy and peace in Europe” said Sergio Aires, President of EAPN. “Now is the time to stop the rot and build a vision for Europe in line with the Europe 2020 strategy and deliver the necessary budget to be able to realise such a vision”, added Mr Aires.
MEP Elisabeth-Chartier, Rapporteur on the Regulation for the next round of the European Social Fund (ESF) confirmed the determination of the European Parliament to support the Commission’s proposal: “As parliamentarians, representing the European citizens, we want and we’ll fight for this 20%, ring-fenced for the fight against poverty”.
The European Commission issued a draft regulation 2014-2020 in December 2011 where they propose to allocate minimum shares for the European Social Fund (ESF), i.e. at least 25% of the Cohesion Policy’s budget for the ESF, and, at least 20% of the ESF earmarked for social inclusion and poverty reduction. Social NGOs and the European Parliament are strongly backing this proposal.
This proposal was severely undermined by the Council at the June General Affairs Council**, as a vast majority of Member States seemed to reject it. At their next meeting on 20th November, they will take a definite decision on whether they support or reject the Commission’s proposal on the Structural Funds’ Regulations for the next programming period (2014-2020).
Social NGOs have run a campaign coordinated by EAPN ‘EU Money for Poverty Reduction, NOW!’ to push Member States to defend the minimum shares for the European Social Fund (ESF) as proposed in the draft regulation by the European Commission.
* Social NGOs will hand out the list of signatures at the Council Building on 19th Nov at 11 a.m. to Mr Adonis CONSTANTINIDES, Ambassador and Minister Counsellor, in charge of Multiannual Financial Framework – Cohesion Policy for Cyprus. To attend the event, bring identity cards or press pass to get pass security.
** It is at the General Affairs Council, gathering Prime Ministers and/or Ministers for European Affairs, that issues such as Structural Funds’ Regulations are dealt with and decided upon. European Council meetings gather Prime Ministers and heads of States and discuss more overarching issues such as the multiannual financial framework (MAFF) and the overall European Budget. The next European Council meeting, which will be held on 22-23 November, should reach to an agreement on the MAFF.
- Social NGOs’ joint letter to the General Affairs Council representatives.
- Social NGOs campaign’s petition: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/EU_Money_for_Poverty_Reduction_NOW_1/
- Webpage EU Money for Poverty Reduction NOW! Campaign: http://www.eapn.eu/eu-money-for-poverty-reduction-now
- EAPN interviews MEP E. Morin-Chartier, Rapporteur in the European Parliament: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h1wp-7rcJo&feature=em-share_video_user
- On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/EAPN-European-Anti-Poverty-Network/51278044814?ref=hl
- On Twitter: @EAPNEurope
The photo shows the representatives of social NGOs handing over the 12000 plus signatures who supported the campaign “EU Money for Poverty Reduction Now!” to the representative from the Cypriot Presidency, Mr. Adonis Constantinides.