International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
by Catherine MALLET
Catherine Mallet from the EU Affairs Office attended the European Parliament’s intergroup on extreme poverty and human rights which organized an event on 17th October to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, with the participation of ATD Fourth World.
Opening speeches came from Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament and Ambassador Clyde Kull, and the Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia. The latter stressed that the new Pillar of Social Rights should set the framework to aim for upward convergence in the EU, although it needed political commitment. The Pillar reflects European values of equality; dignity and respect he said. He also stressed the need for a positive approach to Sustainable Development Goals.
The first panel looked at examples from the sharing economy, such as non-financial contributions to society with representatives from L’Accorderie, France, Economy of Communion International Incubating Network in Italy and from the Fundacion San Juan De Dios, Spain.
The second panel focussed on the European Pillar of Social Rights (to be endorsed at this week’s social summit in Gothenburg 17th Nov) and how to meet the needs of the most deprived. ATD Fourt World stressed that the basis of social rights must also be for the most vulnerable in society: people who are without a clear status, without identity documents or without a recognized home, people who are homeless, young people who have grown up outside their family, people who are long-term unemployed.The homelessness organisation FEANTSA reminded us that there are still 4 million homeless (living on the streets or in a homeless shelter) in the EU today and 123 million living in poverty. However the homeless, which are some of the most vulnerable people, are systematically excluded from EU policies. Regarding the SDGs he pointed out the EU has so far not planned on setting indicators on extreme poverty or homelessness.
The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) stressed that we have to put an end to the austerity that undermines social rights. Social coverage should be seen as an investment and not a cost. They encourage the financing of a minimum income and a social protection scheme. We must put social rights at the heart of our policies in Europe he said. The pillar of social rights will be followed by legislative proposals. EAPN hopes that a right to social protection and a minimum income is guaranteed for all, including those working in precarious conditions.
A representative of The European Commission explained that the Pillar should be considered as a point of reference and monitoring of social policies of the Member States will be ensured. Some countries have received specific recommendations in specific areas, however it will be necessary to follow more precise indicators, in terms of gender equality, child protection, etc. He said that the EU must help the convergence of good practices and that they support a benchmarking system to better converge the social policies of member states.