DOC

National and European policies to combat poverty and social exclusion

By Craig Ruiz,2014-12-13 12:43
10 views 0
National and European policies to combat poverty and social exclusion

    european anti-poverty network

    réseau européen des associations de lutte contre la pauvreté et l'exclusion sociale

    National and European policies

    to combat poverty and

    social exclusion

    Helsinki, 8-9 November 1999

    Conference hosted by the European

    Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN)

    Rapporteur: Xavier Dutrenit

    April 2000

    rue du Congrès 37/41 - Bte 2 B-1000 Bruxelles

    tel: 32.2.230.44.55 fax: 32.2.230.97.33 Email:eapn@euronet.be

    EAPN is supported by the European Commission

     1

    CONTENTS

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY/CONCLUSIONS ...................................................................................... 3

    I - Opening plenary session ............................................................................................................... 9

    II - Round table discussion ............................................................................................................... 16 Policies to combat poverty and social exclusion: current trends .......................................

    III - Reports from the workshops ................................................................................................... 22

    IV - Workshops....................................................................................................................................... 32 How to articulate policies and actions at the local, national and at the European

    level? ..............................................................................................................................................................

    V Round table discussion ............................................................................................................. 40 How can the EU support policies to fight against poverty and social exclusion? .......

    VI - Closing Session ............................................................................................................................ 45

    APPENDICES .......................................................................................................................................... 48 Appendix 1 - Statistical data ..................................................................................................................... 48 Appendix 2 - Programme of the conference ............................................................................................. 52 Appendix 3 - Bio notes of the speakers and chairs of the conference ....................................................... 55

    Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................. 58

     2

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY/CONCLUSIONS

    There are at least 65 million people living in situation of poverty and social exclusion on the European Union’s territory. They are carrying the burden but not sharing in the benefits of a globalised and growing economy. This is a tremendous challenge to the cohesion of our European societies and it is time to genuinely attack the causes of this phenomenon. This was the overall message of the conference organised by EAPN in Helsinki at the time of the Finnish presidency on national and European polices to combat poverty and social exclusion.

    The conference was prepared by EAPN in partnership with representatives from European and national NGOs, from the Trade Unions and the business community, from local and national governments, academics and experts in social issues from different national and international agencies and organisations. The conference eventually gathered more than 150 participants from all Member States of the European Union. It was a major opportunity to have a thorough exchange of views on current trends and policies related to poverty and social exclusion at a time where the European Union enters a critical phase of its development.

A wide exchange of views on polices to combat poverty and social exclusion

The welcoming address by the Finnish Social and Health Affairs Minister, Ms PERHO, gave a

    ringing endorsement to more far-reaching action on social exclusion by the EU in line with the new pledges given in the Amsterdam Treaty (article 137). Investment in social protection systems is particularly important because they help people cope with the hazards of life that society in general cannot guard against. She hoped the Member States would step up cooperation in this area on this basis.

The same concern was also central to the talk by Ms. Katherine DUFFY, principal lecturer at De

    Montfort University (UK), whose daunting task was to outline the main trends in poverty and social exclusion in Europe to kick off the debate. Her task was made harder by the dearth of reliable national or European data which were hard to get and did not accurately reflect the underlying causes of social exclusion. Nevertheless, with the information available, Ms Duffy showed that recent trends painted a bleak scenario of entrenched inequalities in GDP and unemployment within the EU (and within Member States), and widening income gaps, especially in the Northern countries which had taken an Anglo-American approach to social protection.

    Ms Duffy said the political responses to that were worrying in several respects: increasingly area-based anti-poverty measures raised real questions about democratic accountability and the real impact on people in situation of exclusion; trends in social protection varied between EU member countries, but there was a real risk of the worst-off slipping through a purely “safety net”

    approach and bearing the full brunt of budget cuts; active measures to improve employability were based on an unconvincing analysis of labour market problems and, worse still, set the stage for a purely work-centred, tunnel-vision view of citizenship which ran counter to the European tradition of political and social citizenship.

Hugues FELTESSE, President of EAPN France offered a more upbeat assessment, singling out

    instances of progress in different Member States, which were capable of informing Union-wide policies against exclusion. His arguments were drawn from the document written by 9 EAPN national networks for the Conference. The fight against poverty and social exclusion had worked its way to the top of the national agenda in Portugal, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Widening access to fundamental rights by introducing a right to a minimum income and inclusion, and developing programmatic rights (the right to housing or education) sometimes becomes a reality and is not always left to sweeping international declarations.

     3

    Developing multi-dimensional, integrated policies by setting up structures that cut across government, regular evaluation and proposal meetings with the economic and social players concerned, publishing national reports on poverty and social exclusion, and sets of indicators, can give serious leverage to action on the structural causes of exclusion. The promotion of partnership and participation can then be taken beyond words and given shape through specific institutional machinery for systematic consultation with users of social services and self-advocacy groups of the poor.

Responding to these talks, Stefano MARTINELLI of UNICE said that action on poverty and social

    exclusion had to be through a European strategy for employment growth underpinned by all the elements of the Luxembourg strategy and the Cardiff process (goods, services, labour and capital market reforms), and reform of work-related training to make people more employable. Henri

    LOURDELLE, for the ETUC, said the European Treaties must recognise that the right to work and the right to social protection were two paramount fundamental rights and the cornerstones of any action on the root causes of social exclusion to return people to full participation in society. Finally, Kath READE for the Local Government Association (UK) argued for a radical assessment of the

    current state of affairs and asked participants to examine the effects of current restructuring and regeneration policies before the necessary integrated policies were put in place, especially at local level.

    The general discussion and dialogue were carried on into a series of thematic workshops addressing such big issues as what is meant by integrated and multi-dimensional policies; the impact of employment policies on poverty; social protection and the implementation of fundamental human rights; promoting partnership and participation with the players engaged in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

    The Conference also dwelt at length on the linkages between poverty and exclusion measures at different levels of governance. Pierre CALAME, Director of the Fondation pour le progrès de

    l’Homme made a stirring call for action at local level to take forward the search for alternatives to the present model of development and a new vision of globalisation from a standpoint of “shared responsibility” rather than “burden sharing”. He thought that the European employment strategy was mapping the outlines of an active subsidiarity, reflecting a balance between diversity and unity, which should be a template for future EU social policies.

    The avenues for discussion opened up by Pierre Calame’s speech were explored further in parallel workshops, reported back on by Isabelle DUSSUTOUR of the Council of European Municipalities

    and Regions (ECMR), and cross-fertilised by the panel discussion on the EU’s role in supporting poverty and social exclusion policies. Jean TONGLET, Executive Secretary of the International

    Movement ATD-Fourth World, said there was an urgent need for far-reaching action to achieve a new, people-centred, humanising development which would counteract the “social Darwinism”

    mindset into which our societies were locked. Chiara SARACENO, Chair of the Italian Commission

    on Social Exclusion, argued for a radical poverty-proofing of current European economic and social policies from two standpoints: do they generate poverty and social exclusion? Do they contribute to the fight against poverty and social exclusion? To facilitate this audit exercise, the Union should make it a priority to develop performance indicators and evaluation systems. Finally, Hugh FRAZER, Director of the Combat Poverty Agency in Ireland, showed how the Union can give

    essential political leadership to strengthen national policies by acting on at least 7 fronts, and called on all players to see that the Lisbon Summit (March 2000) did not become a missed opportunity.

Rounding off the debates for the European Parliament, Ms. Marie-Hélène GILLIG MEP, member of

    the Social Affairs and Employment Committee, came down firmly in favour of far-reaching action by the EU to combat poverty and exclusion by publishing separate guidelines from the employment guidelines and major changes to the European Treaties to give substance to a real “Social Treaty”. Ms. Gabrielle CLOTUCHE, Director with the European Commission’s Directorate General for

    Employment and Social Affairs, outlined the 5 key policy strands which the European Commission

     4

    would be pursuing to combat poverty and social exclusion: European employment strategy; Structural Funds; Community EQUAL and URBAN Initiatives; integrating social inclusion into the strategy to modernise social protection; publishing an ambitious but realistic programme based on article 137.

Summing up, EAPN President Fintan FARRELL said that the challenges to make action on poverty

    and social exclusion an EU priority were supremely political ones. He called on all the participants