THE EU NEEDS AN INTEGRATED RIGHTS-BASED ANTI-POVERTY STRATEGY AT THE HEART OF ITS POST-2020 AGENDA: BASED ON PARTICIPATION & BACKED BY EU FUNDING
On Thursday, 15 June, EAPN (European Anti-Poverty Network) held a policy conference: Learning from the past to beyond 2020 - What strategy to fight poverty, social exclusion & inequality?
The conference exchanged on the crucial questions of What integrated strategy should the EU propose to effectively fight poverty? and how should this strategy be mainstreamed into a post 2020 strategy? and gave special attention to the SDG agenda; the follow up on the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the implications of the Future of Europe proposals.
Sérgio Aires, EAPN President, opened the conference, saying "We have to recognize our collective failure on poverty, with 119 million still at risk of poverty, 1 in 4, and no progress on our target.”
After Hugh Frazer(Coordinator of the European Social Policy Network) had given an important overview of the current situation of EU delivery on poverty, EAPN’s position and key messages on a post-2020 strategy to fight poverty and social exclusion were presented, which emerged from workshops with EAPN members, including people experiencing poverty:
Javier Salgado(EAPN Spain’s participation coordinator, with direct experience of poverty) gave a reality check on what people experiencing poverty expect from the EU: “Social Europe is impossible without integrated Active Inclusion... We want to be heard.”
Ruth Paserman (Commissioner Thyssen's Cabinet) then responded with her view of what is social in the EU’s current processes and initiatives and where there are limitations, & where civil society organisations should focus their attention. “The European Pillar of Social Rights is aimed at mainstreaming the social in other policies”, she said. Alexis Rinckenbach (Vice-Chair, Social Protection Committee) reflected on the Europe 2020 Strategy and the new Pillar, emphasizing the need for political momentum and building ownership through the Social Protection Committee.
After lively debate, the question of what post Europe 2020 framework/governance process we need to fight poverty and how to get there was explored.
Michael Mackey (Board member of EAPN Ireland, with direct experience of poverty), said “I spent 30 years as a rough sleeper, and nobody said to me where will you lay your head..In 2007, I got confidence... got a chance as a delegate in EAPN's Meeting of People Experiencing Poverty... It was a turning point for me... All poor people want is to be included in decisions which have an impact on their lives."
Leida Rijnhout(Programme Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Europe & Steering Committee member, SDG Watch Europe) presented the opportunities offered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda. Jana Hainsworth(Secretary General, Eurochild), Heather Roy(Secretary General, Eurodiaconia), and Richard Pond(Policy Staff, EPSU) provided their particular viewpoints on what framework is needed, key respective points being to embed the SDGs at the level of how children experience their childhood; the need for a value base of dignity & the need for investment in services.
Sonia Vila-Nuñez(European Commission, Secretariat General) replied saying that although the EU doesn't have competences on many of the areas covered by the Pillar of Social Rights, she sees it as a tool to build consensus, as wide as possible, and that the final proposals put the individual in priority of place.
Sérgio Aires (EAPN President), formulated the main conclusions of the seminar that people want to be heard and included in the decisions which impact on their lives, and that we need to be transformative ourselves. EAPN’s key messages and inputs will contribute to the drafting of EAPN’s position on a post-2020 strategy to be published in the Autumn.