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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Third Sector European Network letter to the PM

Jean was one of the many signatories on this letter from the Third Sector European Network, which was delivered to the Prime Minister today (Tuesday, June 1):

Dear Prime Minister

Re: Europe 2020 Strategy- Targets in the social dimension, reduction of poverty and promotion of social inclusion

In March 2010, the UK agreed that the strategy ‘Europe 2020′ should promote social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty, but it was also agreed that further work is needed on appropriate indicators and that the European Council will revert to this issue at the June Council meeting.

We believe that the UK would be ideally placed to promote the importance of the social dimension of the EU2020 Strategy, in light of the new focus on the ‘Big Society’. Given the opportunity for civil society to play a central role in the UK, the current review provides an important opportunity for the United Kingdom Government to push for social inclusion and ambitious poverty reduction targets, even beyond the proposed 25%.

It is widely recognised that the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs has failed to make a radical impact on the eradication of poverty, disadvantage and inequality as 79 million people in the EU are still living in poverty, including the working poor.

We ask you, during the discussions at the June Council Meeting, to support and commit to a set of deprivation indicators that best capture the multi-dimensional nature of poverty and social exclusion to be monitored both at EU and National levels.

We further ask you to support a dedicated ‘Promoting Social Inclusion & Combating Poverty’ Guideline as well as to support this as a cross-cutting theme to ensure that social inclusion and poverty are central to the whole strategy. Whilst we agree that employment and skills are the best route out of individual poverty, we are concerned the proposed Integrated Guidelines, as they stand, will risk repeating the same trend promoted by the Lisbon Strategy of just equating reduction of poverty with employment, without paying due attention to the needs of those furthest from the labour market.

The Community Resources, notably the European Structural Funds, will be earmarked to achieve the strategic objectives set in Europe 2020. If we miss the opportunity now to give social objectives the same status as economic objectives, the Structural Funds Programme 2014-2020 will also have weak social objectives.

We hope that when you meet as the European Council, in June, you will agree to poverty reduction targets and indicators and that you will argue for the need for dedicated guidelines and policies to achieve such targets. In so doing, you will give an important message that the EU recognises the vital role of civil society.

Yours sincerely

Sandra Turner
Executive Director
Third Sector European Network