30 June 2014, Brussels – The adoption by the European Council of the “Strategic agenda for the Union in times of change” will impact strongly on the future of the European Union and sets the direction for the European Union’s legislative work for the next five years. Yet are the five priorities agreed enough to ensure the well-being of people across the European Union and will the existing imbalances between economic and social policies be rectified?
Eurodiaconia welcomes the text’s recognition of rising inequalities, its direct reference to the empowerment
and protection of citizens (objective 2) and in particular its commitment to “help ensure all our societies have
their safety nets (…) to accompany change and reverse inequalities.”
However there remains an unbalanced emphasis on economic growth and there is still no commitment to
identifying and addressing the social impact of economic reforms. In addition, the Europe 2020 strategy
seems to be sidelined. Heather Roy, Secretary General of Eurodiaconia commented “This strategic agenda
states that the EU2020 review will be the occasion for Europe 2020 to be brought in line with this new agenda.
Does this mean that the European Union will move away from the goal of smart, sustainable and inclusive
growth with a clear focus on reducing poverty and social exclusion alongside other targets such as addressing
unemployment? A European Union that does not prioritize the well being of people, addresses poverty and
social exclusion and which does not promote social investment is a European Union in danger of losing the
support of an ever growing percentage of the population.
Eurodiaconia members have constantly been reporting and monitoring on the implementation of European
economic and social policies at Member States level. Their conclusion has been that too often poverty
reduction policies, in line with European Union’s policy direction, have amounted to labour market “activation”
policies, regardless of the unavailability of jobs or the unbridgeable gap between labour market and the
situation of some of the most excluded in Europe.
Heather Roy stated “the European Commission must also commit to the coherence of its policies, and that
this new strategic agenda aiming towards growth and competitiveness will not impair but rather support
member states efforts to care for their most vulnerable, through social investment approaches and access to
quality social services”.
End of press release
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