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Social Justice Ireland challenges Government during presentation to Oireachtas Committee- 2010

In a presentation to the Oireachtas Committee today, March 25, 2010, Social Justice Ireland has called on the Taoiseach and the Irish Government to ensure that the European Council adopts a target of reducing poverty by 25% in the EU by 2020 and adopts social cohesion and social inclusion as explicit objectives of the European Strategy for 2020. The Council is set to meet today and tomorrow, March 25 and 26, 2010.

Social Justice Ireland has written to the Taoiseach urging him to ensure this European Spring Council meeting agrees to:

• Set social cohesion and social inclusion as explicit objectives of the Europe 2020 agenda;
• Commit to reduce poverty by 25% by 2020 as an interim target towards eradication of poverty and use the relative poverty measure (60% median income) as indicator;
• Guarantee the sustainability of social protection systems and universal access to services of general interest;
• Strengthen the Social Open Method of Coordination to make it effectively deliver on social cohesion and inclusion objectives
• Focus the employment strategy on decent jobs according to an active inclusion approach.
• Ensure the "20/20/20" climate/energy targets will be met.
Including these commitments in the final Europe 2020 Strategy is essential for a number of reasons including:
• The need for the EU to be seen to address seriously the situation of large numbers of people in the EU who are currently suffering real hardship;
• The need to ensure the legitimacy of the European project among EU citizens.
 

Background

• The European Commission's original consultation document on Strategy 2020 was deeply flawed.
• Social Justice Ireland made a detailed submission to the European Commission, which made 15 practical proposals.
• The European Commission's first overview of the responses received to their consultation document was strongly attacked by social and environmental organisations because it was misleading.
• The second summary provided by the Commission was more accurate.
 

Current situation

In preparation for the Council meeting starting this evening the European Commission has produced a second draft of the 'Europe 2020' strategy.

Among other things this draft proposes 5 key targets for the EU to be achieved by 2020:

• 75% of people between 20 and 64 should be employed
• 3% of EU's GDP should be invested in R&D
• "20/20/20" climate/energy targets should be met (i.e. reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels, increase the share of renewable energy in our final energy consumption by 20% and achieve a 20% increase in energy efficiency).
• Share of early school leavers should be under 10% and at least 40% of younger generation have a tertiary degree.
• 20 million less people should be at risk of poverty.

This is the first time that a concrete target to reduce poverty has been included in a draft strategy document. According to information available to Social Justice Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, Sweden, Netherlands and Italy are against having either the principle of a poverty target or the specific relative poverty target included in the Strategy.

Recommendation

Social Justice Ireland strongly urges the Irish government to ensure the poverty targets are contained in the final strategy adopted. We also urge Government to ensure that the 'risk of poverty' measure is used in setting these targets as that would go some way towards addressing the inequality that has been growing in the EU.

We continue to work with our colleagues in the Caritas Europa Network in all 27 EU-member countries to ensure that these targets are adopted and that the European Council agrees that social cohesion and social inclusion are adopted as explicit objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Specifically we urge that the EU Strategy 2020:
• Set social cohesion and social inclusion as explicit objectives of the Europe 2020 agenda;
• Commit to reduce poverty by 25% by 2020 as an interim target towards eradication of poverty and use the relative poverty measure (60% median income) as indicator;
• Guarantee the sustainability of social protection systems and universal access to services of general interest;
• Strengthen the Social Open Method of Coordination to make it effectively deliver on social cohesion and inclusion objectives
• Focus the employment strategy on decent jobs according to an active inclusion approach.
• Ensure the "20/20/20" climate/energy targets will be met.

Zero-Poverty
In the longer term it is important that the EU set itself a target of Zero Poverty. This target could and should be attained.
Caritas Europa is currently running a campaign which is seeking 1,000,000 signatures throughout the EU to a petition to be submitted to the European Parliament later this year. The campaign is called the Zero Poverty Campaign and seeks to have the EU adopt a target of zero poverty as its ultimate target in this area. We in Social Justice Ireland are leading this campaign in Ireland and see the petition as a fitting way of marking the European Year Against Poverty and Social Exclusion (2010).
 

Links to docuiments

The European Commission's original consultation document on Strategy 2020 was deeply flawed.

Social Justice Ireland's submission to the European Commission, addressed these flaws and presented 15 practical proposals. This submission can be accessed here.

The European Commission's first overview of the responses received to their consultation document was strongly attacked by social and environmental organisations because it was misleading.

The second summary provided by the Commission was more accurate.

In preparation for this Council meeting the European Commission has produced a second draft of the 'Europe 2020' strategy.

Publication: