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16 June 2010

Statement by EESC President Mario Sepi – Europe 2020 Strategy: "A common indicator needs to be adopted to measure the poverty reduction target"

Following the recent Biennial Conference in Florence on "Education to fight social exclusion", EESC President Mario Sepi and the EESC Study Group on the European Year against Poverty are urging the European Council to adopt a common income indicator by which to measure progress towards the target of reducing by 20 million the number of people at risk of poverty.

As the European Union commits itself to a long-term strategy, the EESC as the representative body of organised civil society wishes to send the European institutions a firm but supportive message about the poverty reduction target. The Committee urges the Council to take the following recommendations into account at its meeting on 17 June, when it sets the poverty reduction targets to be achieved by 2020:

To help reach the target of reducing by 20 million the number of people at risk of poverty, a common income indicator should be explicitly set as the core indicator. This does not exclude the possibility of the indicator being complemented by targeted thematic indicators, so as to reflect the multiplicity of problems linked to poverty.

There needs to be continued emphasis in the Europe 2020 Strategy on tackling inequalities and fighting discrimination by mainstreaming these issues in all policy areas, in line with the Lisbon Treaty.

Steps must be taken to strengthen and adapt the Open Method of Coordination on social protection and social inclusion, with increased emphasis on the role of the national action plans and setting of measurable targets.

In the current crisis it is critical to keep social protection and social inclusion policies in place. As many Member States face heavy budgetary constraints, the EESC recommends assessing the impact of budgetary restriction measures to ensure that action taken does not increase the number of people in poverty.

There must be support for setting up a European platform against poverty in order not just to share best practice, but also to assess the impact of policies and measures implemented.

It is essential to ensure that any economic recovery measures from now on take account of the strategic targets adopted under the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The EESC reaffirms its support to the EU institutions in their continued fight against poverty and social exclusion, in particular through the platform against poverty.

Mario Sepi

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