How we work

EAPN lobbies for and with people and groups facing poverty and social exclusion by engaging them as stakeholders in the EU and national decision-making processes.

The European Anti-Poverty Network was born out of the European Union’s poverty programmes in the 1990s. EAPN has consistently engaged with and been a key actor in the Social Open Method of Coordination, the European Employment Strategy, Europe 2020 and the European Semester processes, as well as the delivery of European Structural Funds and Cohesion Policy. As a member-driven organisation, EAPN engages with both national and EU policy, together with its 31 National Networks and 13 European Organisations, by both lobbying for more effective policies against poverty and social exclusion, as well as monitoring their implementation in Member States and in the European Union as a whole.

EAPN’s General Assembly provides the overall political and strategic direction of the organisation and its Executive Committee (EXCO) and Bureau ensure the follow-up of this work.  Key policy work is carried out by the EU Inclusion Strategies Group (EU ISG). Both the EXCO and the EU ISG bring together national representatives from all 31 anti-poverty networks in membership of EAPN, as well as representatives from member European Organisations. These groups meet three times a year, for two days each time, and work to deliver the priorities of the organisation, based on yearly work programmes adopted in accordance with EAPN’s current Strategic Plan and Advocacy Strategy. For more information about EAPN’s structure and internal organisation, see the section Our Structure.

All EAPN statements, letters, press releases, position papers, reports, or other publications or manifestations are endorsed by and produced with active input from our members, based on in-depth discussions and a consensual EAPN line. The participation of people experiencing poverty and their organisations in the structures and work of EAPN is a key principle – for more on how we do this in practice, see here.

EAPN’s achievements

EAPN has contributed to key EU developments:

  • New Articles in the EU Treaties (Articles 13, 136 and 137 in the Amsterdam Treaty, Articles 3 and 11 in the Treaty on European Union and articles 9, 14 in the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU).
  • The development of the EU Inclusion Strategy (OMC on Social Protection and Social Inclusion) and the development of the EU Programme to support this strategy (PROGRESS).
  • The adoption of an EU Recommendation on Active Inclusion (Adequacy of Income, Access to Services, Support for access to employment).
  • The adoption of the Partnership Principle in Structural Funds and the follow up of the implementation of this principle.
  • The increased direct participation of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion as recognised by the processes associated to the annual European Meetings of People Experiencing Poverty.
  • The designation of 2010 as the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.
  • The adoption of a European headline target to reduce poverty in the Europe 2020 Strategy.
  • The ring fencing of 20% of the European Social Fund (ESF) for social Inclusion.


Some of the highlights of EAPN’s policy work with its members include:

  • Seeking pro-active, meaningful stakeholder engagement in the Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Semester processes, as well as other national and European strategies to fight poverty and social exclusion, both at Brussels level as well as in countries.
  • Monitoring, analysing, and reviewing these processes, together with members, through face-to-face discussions and exchanges, written inputs, questionnaires, fiches, synthesis reports, and alternative recommendations, including the Annual Growth Survey, the Country Reports, the Country Specific Recommendations and the National Reform Programmes.
  • EAPN national members engaging closely with key actors such as national Governments (including members of the Social Protection Committee and the Employment Committee), the European Semester Officers, country desk officers in DG Employment, and other relevant contacts, including bilateral and fact finding missions organised by the European Commission in Member States.
  • Writing letters and issuing press releases in the run up to EPSCO meetings and European Councils.
  • EAPN national members and European Organisations raising awareness and lobbying for better policies to fight poverty and social exclusion through a wide range of activities (events, publications, campaigns, shadow reporting, consultations, alliances etc).