Caritas Europa delivers a “Shadow Report” on the Europe 2020 Strategy from the perspective of 16 Organizations in the Caritas network across the EU.
A new report addressing several key aspects of the Europe 2020 Strategy concludes that the issue of poverty and social exclusion and the policies to address them should be framed in an integrated manner to include both economic and social dimensions. The report has been developed within the Caritas Europa core strategic activity of Advocacy and Public Campaigning towards decision-makers in Europe.
It constitutes an assessment of the first year of implementation of “Europe 2020”, the overarching reform strategy of the EU for the next decade. In keeping with the inclusive partnership approach proclaimed by Europe 2020 regarding the design and implementation of EU policies, sixteen national Caritas organisations were asked to analyse the National Reform Programmes (NRPs) in their respective country.
Main findings include:
- The governments focus on reductions in public expenditure on social security benefits and services, wage reductions and increases in tax will disproportionately impact upon the poorest in society. The austerity measures pursued by many countries will result in the erosion of social services, what will lead to further exclusion of people who already find themselves on the margins of society.
- Under the influence of the economic crisis, many NRPs highlight the importance of economic growth as a means of increasing employment, seen as the key to reducing poverty. The Europe 2020 Strategy is clearly based on this model. However, recent OCDE forecasts suggest that progress will not be achieved in the immediate future on many NRPs targets. A real danger exists that poverty and social exclusion will not be addressed effectively in the period ahead.
- The macro-economic approach underpinning the Europe 2020 strategy fails to understand the interdependence of economic development, social development and environmental protection. States have to understand that all three pillars – the economic, the social and the environmental one – need each other simultaneously for a truly sustainable growth.
- There must be better participatory structures in regard to the development of the National Reform Programs, and adequate time should be allocated for stakeholders to respond and participate in debates.
The blending of Caritas’s unique experience of working on the ground with a strong evidence base in regard to the implementation of NRPs represents a salient ingredient of the report and will certainly offer a faithful picture of the social impact of European policies to decision-makers of all levels.
In its final recommendations, the report advices that:
- The issue of poverty and social exclusion and the policies to address them should be conceived in an integrated manner to include economic and social dimensions.
- NRPs should be framed in a manner which recognises the interdependence of economic development, social development and environmental development.
- All NRPs should ensure that all components of active inclusion are addressed, particularly in the context of strategies aimed at achieving an adequate minimum income and quality services for all.
- More inclusive participation is needed to develop the NRPs, especially in order to engage all stakeholders. Member States should also broaden public debate in regard to the elaboration of NRPs.
- A more comprehensive approach to monitoring the NRPs is required.
- The EU should address all areas of the NRPs, giving equal importance to all Europe 2020 headline targets. In particular the EU should ensure that poverty and social exclusion are addressed by all Member States appropriately.
Caritas organisations also addressed policy recommendations to their own governments. The report makes final recommendations based on the overall analysis of national responses.
Caritas Europa hopes this report will help give a voice to the many poor and vulnerable people living in our society today and the organisations who work with them. It is especially hoped that this report will generate debate in relation to the social inclusion aspect of the Europe 2020 Strategy.
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