EUROPE 2020 tackles poverty through a new deal
People living in poverty propose solutions to policy makers during the 9th Meeting of People Experiencing Poverty
Brussels, 25 June 2010 – The 9th Meeting of People Experiencing Poverty, taking place today and tomorrow in Brussels, will bring policy makers face to face with 150 people experiencing poverty from 23 EU Member States and Norway. The goal of this year’s meeting is to integrate the conclusions of all previous meetings into a 10-Year Action Plan to fight against poverty through an active dialogue with EU policy makers.
The 9th edition of this annual event, entitled “Starting Point for a New Deal”, is organised by the Spanish Presidency of the EU, in cooperation with the European Commission and the European Anti-Poverty Network. László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion commented “EU leaders took a historic step on 17 June by agreeing on the target to lift at least 20 million out of poverty or social exclusion by 2020. This sends a powerful message about Europe’s genuine commitment to visible results for a more just and inclusive Europe.” He added: “The 2010 European Year to combat poverty and exclusion has helped build political momentum. Our goal is to combine what already works well with innovative new approaches and the European Commission is there to support Member States in their efforts tackle poverty and social exclusion”.
Poverty in the spotlight
EU statistics in 2008 indicate that 16% of the EU’s population (nearly 80 million Europeans) currently live below the poverty threshold, on less than 60% of the national median income. With 5 more million unemployed than at the outset of the crisis, income has dropped for many households, thereby exposing them to poverty. The nature, size and effects of the crisis differ within EU. As part of the EU’s new strategy for the next decade: Europe 2020, EU leaders agreed at their meeting in June on the Commission’s proposal to set a concrete target to reduce those at risk of poverty and exclusion by at least 20 million by 2020. Member States will now have to translate this target into national targets.
During its period in office, the Spanish Presidency has called to consolidate and to reinforce social policies in the EU, in order to protect the most vulnerable sectors of population from the effects of the crisis: Roma population, persons with disabilities, the elderly and the children. Spain has promoted active inclusion as well as measures aimed to fight housing exclusion and homelessness. The adoption of the goals on poverty reduction at the Employment and Social Affairs Council and later agreed on by EU leaders, is another of the Spanish Presidency’s main achievements. Consequently, the goals of this 9th Meeting, a New Deal to fight Poverty, is fully shared and supported by the Spanish Presidency.
Results so far
Research on the impact of the annual meetings reveals that 82% of policy makers consider they have changed their approach in the fight against poverty as a result of the meeting. Even more relevant, 55% of policy makers reported that the discussions and recommendations of the meetings were translated into policies. This is a positive step forward, though work still needs to be done so that these changes can be felt. Currently, almost 78% of people experiencing poverty feel that their recommendations are not strongly reflected by EU policy.
The topics of each meeting vary on a yearly basis, according to the relevant priorities. Last year, the focus was on housing, financial inclusion and access to basic services. “It’s all about fighting for the full exercise of our human rights. We should not give up of this fight. This meeting is one of the tools we have to make ourselves heard. By sharing our experiences here, we are able to provide policymakers with a fuller understanding of the problems we face, which we would otherwise not have the courage to point out”, says Adélia Fernandes, Portuguese Delegate to the 8th EU Meeting of People experiencing Poverty.
The 9th EU Meeting of People Experiencing Poverty is a two-day event that engages people experiencing poverty in a constructive dialogue with Members of the European Parliament, representatives of national governments, European Commission, NGOs and academia. Discussions will be structured in 8 workshops that will run simultaneously and will result in defining 16 priorities for the following ten years. Among the participants, we mention:
László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion,
Robert Verrue, Director General , DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities,
Consuelo Sanchez Naranjo, Sub-secretary , Ministry of Health and Social Policy
Pervenche Berès, Chair of the European Parliament’s Employment Committee,
Antonia Carparelli, Head of Unit for Inclusion, Social Policy Aspects of Migration, Streamlining of Social Policies, European Commission,
Philippe Courard, Belgian Secretary of State for Social Integration and the Fight against Poverty and
Fintan Farrell, Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN).
Eradicating poverty: next steps
The annual meeting allows people experiencing poverty to interact directly with policy makers. This interaction has so far paved the way to significant progress in key areas such as unemployment, housing, access to health and pensions.
The 10-Year Action Plan to eliminate poverty will comprise all areas tackled in the previous meetings. In order to ensure its foreseen long-term implementation, the 10-Year Action Plan will be implemented with the active support of the current and future Presidencies of the EU. The 9th edition will have the support of the incumbent Spanish Presidency of the EU, as well as of the upcoming Belgian and Hungarian ones.