Minimum income is one of the cornerstones of social protection systems. On the 24th June 1992, the European Council agreed unanimously to lay down common criteria on “sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems” (Recommendation 92/441/EEC). Since then most Member States have introduced minimum income systems, but there are significant differences in how these schemes work and their impact on vulnerable people. In the Social Agenda published in February 2005, the Commission reiterated its commitment to publish a communication on the issue. This was finally published on the 8th February 2006, in the form of a Consultation “On action at EU level to promote the active inclusion of the people furthest from the labour market”.
A two stage consultation was organised by the Commission in 2006 and 2007- They have set out a new comprehensive policy conceptcalled Active Inclusion for supporting those furthest from the labour market based on 3 pillars: “a link to the labour market through job opportunities or vocational training; income support at a level that is sufficient for people to have a dignified life; better access to services that may help some individuals and their families in entering mainstream society”.
The second stage consultation in 2007 proposed to deepen the Open Method of Coordination through the adoption of Common principles
income support sufficient to avoid social inclusion (restating the principles of the 92 recommendation)
link to the labour market
link to a better access to quality services
12 Members States responded to the consultation, together with 6 Social Partners, 35 EU level NGOs and 22 national social partners, organizations or NGOs (including EAPN Ireland and EAPN France, as well as the UK Social Policy Task Force) (see responses to the consultation)
3 October 2008: The Commission finally adopted a welcome Recommendation and accompanying Communication on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market Responsible for
National level:EU Social Protection Committee Member
European level:DG Employment and Social Affairs, Unit E2: Officer responsible: Michele Calandrino.
Background resources and documents
Commission documents – Action on social protection and minimum income on the DG Employment social protection site: http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/social_protection/index_en.htm
Active inclusion web page on Europa website
MISSOC/EUROSTAT data on social protection schemes at member state and EU level.
EAPN key positions and past action
EAPN has been concerned to defend and improve minimum income across the EU as part of an overall commitment to minimum social standards. The underlying position has been the need to defend adequate minimum income levels that enable a dignified life, and together with the access to services, provide people with a secure basis in which to build their routes into work or into other activities. In the response to the new Communication, other key concerns are the need to develop supportive activation measures which lead to more and better jobs, as well as developing strategies that empower and meet the needs of all people at risk of poverty and social exclusion, without insisting on work as the only route
Adequate Income has been an underlying theme in the work of both the Employment and Social Inclusion Review Group, and on issue on which EAPn has been cooperating with other NGOs within the Social Paltform. In 2006 and 2007, EAPN responded to the two successive stages of the Communication (see below)
In 2007 EAPN insisted that the wording ‘Minimum resources’ should not replace ‘Minimum Income’ and questioned the political will to deliver on this issue. See EAPN press release Cause for serious concern for the poorest in Europe: EAPN responds to the conclusions of the EPSCO Council (23/O2/2007).
EAPN also participated in the EU funded project on Social standard.
Parallel to its policy lobbying EAPN has started a specific campaign on the issue.
EAPN key references
All key references are available on the website www.eapn.eu, including the relevant edition of Network News, a briefing on Minimum Income, and EAPN Response to the first stage of the Consultation, “Ensuring a Decent Income and a Better Life for All”.
Key documents are also available on the Social Platform site: www.socialplatform.org including Social Platform response to the consultation.
EAPN Ireland has coordinated an EU funded project on Social Standards, several papers have been developed on the issue of minimum income. See website:
THE LISBON STRATEGY
Contact person in the Secretariat: Sian Jones + 32 2 226 58 59 Sian.Jones@eapn.eu
EAPN groups in charge: EXCO, Employment Working Group, Structural Funds Working Group, Social Inclusion Working Group
IT’S UP TO YOU! WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Give your comments to EAPN on the draft EAPN report on the social impact of the crisis – by the 5th November.
Following the publishing of the National Reform Programmes implementation reports on the Europa websites EAPN members should complete and return the EAPN questionnaire (2), built on their response to the Crisis questionnaire (1).
Participate in the lobbying campaign with EAPN on the EAPN position paper post 2010: An EU we can trust, pushing for a social and sustainable post 2010 EU strategy and a positive legacy for 2010 at EU and national level to input to the EU’s debate and consultation.
Send the EAPN model letter to your MEP’s on the European Parliament Declaration on defending social rights in responding to the economic crisis.
Sign the Spring Alliance Manifesto and encourage your members to do the same. Develop joint meetings with Environmental Groups and Trade Unions.Your organisation can sign the Manifesto byusing the online form.
For information – latest policy developments
This section will also include information on the Economic Crisis – as this is now the refocused objectives of the Growth and Jobs strategy in 2009, as well as information on the post 2010 strategy ( EU 2020)
Lisbon Strategy: Growth and Jobs (2008-10) – Economic Recovery Plans July 2009
There has been a delay with the delivery of the 2009 Implementation reports of the National Reform Programmes, which now should be on the website by the 6th November 2009.
The Commission has started its cycle of bilateral meetings with the Lisbon National Coordinators in preparation for the 2009 Implementation Reports of the National Reform Programmes 2008-10. (See list). Guidance to the LNC has encouraged broader stakeholder involvement – this will be monitored by the Commission.
The Implementation Reports will focus partly on the effectiveness of the MS Economic Recovery packages and partly on the normal review of their implementation of the Commission’s Recommendations and Points to Watch of the NRP.
The Annual Progress Report will focus on these two issues, and will be finalised to be endorsed at the December European Council.
The June European Council: was held on the 18th and 19th of June. The main focus was on the new Communication “A Shared Commitment to Employment, published on June 3rd. (See Employment Section). A solemn declaration on worker’s rights, social policy and other issues was attached to the Conclusions – as a pre-requisite for holding a new referendum by the Irish Government.
The Spring Council Conclusions (19-20th March 2009) focussed strongly on the crisis and in preparation for the G20 conference in London on the 2nd April. The main proposals prioritised regulating the financial sector, deepening the Growth and Jobs Strategy by stimulus measures and investment in defending jobs/ and smart green growth. The main reference to the social impact was to reinforce social protection as an “automatic stabiliser”. A proposal for an Employment Summit, was downgraded to a Troika to be held on May 9th. 3 preparatory workshop s will be held in Spain on the 15th April on Upgrading skills/Integration of youth: in Sweden on the 20th April on Increasing access to employment and on the 23rd April in Czech Republic on Maintaining employment and promoting mobility.
On the 9 and 10th March, the EPSCO held their preparatory Council agreeing their key messages to the Spring Council. This year they included strong social references in the context of the crisis, reflecting the strong inputs of the EMCO and the SPC. The Conclusionsrecognized that Lisbon has not delivered on all its objectives and that “inequalities and exclusion persist, affecting social cohesion”.
On the 4th March, the Commission published the new Communication which replaces the Report on Lisbon to the Spring Council: Driving the economic recovery http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/president/pdf/press_20090304_en.pdf. This report builds on the previous package but makes new proposals on a new International framework for regulating the financial sector (including tax-havens and hedge funds), specific stimulus measures which include targeting support to low-income and vulnerable people, and investment in social as well as green jobs.
On the 28th January 2009, the Commission adopted the “country chapters” and Recommendations under the Growth and Jobs strategy. The chapters analyse progress towards Growth and Jobs, taking account of the crisis. ( the delay in publishing these documents was to allow this update to take place). The recommendations will be endorsed by the Spring European Council on the 19th and 20th March 2009 and subsequent formal adoption by the Council.
At the same time the Commission adopted a companion document which evaluates progress on the specific areas of the guidelines (macro, micro and employment). The final section contains the Draft Joint Employment Report, which will be approved separately. The full set of documents related to the 2008 Annual Progress Report package – Economic Recovery Plan can be found here.
On the 16th December 2008, The Commission adopted a package of documents to support the implementation of the Economic Recovery plan these included:
A report on the implementation and future priorities of the Community Lisbon programme
A review of the European Globalisation Fund
A new Communication “New Skills for New Jobs” and fuller Staff Working document – promoting higher skills to meet “requirements of EU in 2020”
A one year on report on the Single Market Review carried out in 2007.
On the 26th November 2008, the Commission’s Communication on a ”European Economic Recovery Plan” as part 1 of the 2008 Annual Progress Report, and was endorsed by the December European Council. The plan is based on 2 key pillars: 1) Financial stimulus package based on boosting demand and purchasing power, 2) Short-term investment in “smart green jobs”. Solidarity and social justice is supposed to be an “underlying principle”. Key initiatives include launching a major EU employment support initiative – reinforcing activation particularly for the low-skilled, support for the most vulnerable, and creating demand for labour by reducing social charges and reduced VAT rates. Active Inclusion and flexicurity policies should be focussed on re-integration and avoiding long term unemployment. Adequate social protection is seen as providing incentives to work “while preserving purchasing power”.
October 2008- New National Reform Programmes cycle 2008-10: Most of the National Reform Programmes were presented by the 15th October as agreed. They are displayed on the Growth and Jobs Website:
July 2008: The Council adopted the Employment Guidelines. (See Employment Section and EAPN briefing note/updated tool kit – www.eapn.eu)
The Spring Council was held on the 13th and 14th March 2008. However, the Conclusions were the most negative for Social Europe for some years. The tone was self-congratulatory that the “fundamentals of the EU remain sound. The Conclusions confirm that the Integrated Guidelines remain unchanged as do the four priority areas from 2006:
Investing in knowledge and innovation.
Unlocking the business potential, especially of SME’s
Investing in people and modernizing labour markets
Climate change and energy policy for Europe
The Spring Council Conclusions 2008 emphasize that economic, social and territorial cohesion contributes to fulfilling “the objectives of the renewed Lisbon Strategy’ but not the other way around. The focus on the 3rd priority is now on education and the “knowledge triangle – research – innovation and education” and the only concession made to social inclusion is a focus on the renewed Social Agenda.On a positive note the Commission and Member States were invited to “strengthen the involvement of relevant stakeholders in the Lisbon process.
Post 2010 Lisbon Strategy Discussions New Policy Developments (October 2009)
The difficulties over endorsing the Reform Treaty, have led to delays in the publicized consultation over the post 2010 agenda. Originally the consultation paper should have been produced by the 20 October. Now it is envisaged to be published “some time” in November. The advice from the Secretariat General is to make any inputs based on President Barroso’s Guidelines document. They still hope to have a decision finalized by the Spring Council. This means that realistically there will not be a real consultation process, based on the EU guidelines ( ie 8 weeks.)
On the 3rd September, President Barroso presented his vision for post 2010 in the Political Guidelines for the next Commission. Although there is some strong rhetoric about the importance of strengthening the social dimension, based on values and fundamental rights, and commitment to a social and sustainable vision, the detail on the social dimension is very weak, particularly in relation to defence of social protection, active inclusion and minimum income and access to services.
29 September 2009 - the Commission presented the SPC report - their input to the post 2010 debate: “Growth, Jobs and Social Progress”. The report highlights the need to put social cohesion at the heart of the new 2010 strategy and is the strongest input by the SPC to date.
The SPC and the EMCO held a further debate on its post 2010 initial position.
President Barroso gave his first speech to the European Parliament Plenary on the 15th July. However, he stopped short of presenting his full vision on post 2010, as Parliament decided not to confirm his appointment until after the Irish Referendum on the 2nd October.
The Joint SPC-ISG Task Force on Lisbon will present and discuss its final report on the 14th September.
Mid September, the Commission will launch its public consultation on the Post 2010 Agenda. It’s not clear yet if this will be just an internet consultation or include a stakeholder debate. This appears to have been in response to heavy lobbying by NGO’s and other stakeholders.
On the 21st October the SPC will discuss its contribution on the post 2010 agenda. This will be endorsed on the 10th November following the adoption of the EMCO contribution on the 27-28th November.
The EPC will endorse their contribution on the 13 November, followed by the EPSCO on the 30 November. This will be followed by the ECOFIN on the 30 November, and the European Council on the 10-11 December.
By the end of 2009, the Commission will present its full proposals on post 2010, with a view to reaching agreement before the Spring European Council. However, its still not clear whether this will be an introductory debate or the full agreement, due to the fact that the new Commission doesn’t formally get elected until the end of the year.
The latest information/feedback appears to highlight that the Ministers nor the Commission are not in the mood for very radical changes. The main focus is likely to be some light revisions to the Integrated Guidelines. The Employment Troika and preparatory meetings in April will be used to build consensus also on this area.
The EMCO and SPC started first discussions on post 2010 in February through a joint Task Force. The Informal Council on the 26/27 March in Prague focussed on draft proposals. The theme of post 2010 will be the key thematic focus for both EMCO and SPC in April and June meetings. The SPC will finalise its opinion for the July 2 SPC meeting.
The Commission has began its discussions on the post 2010 strategy. The Secretariat General will take the lead on these proposals. A meeting was held with the Lisbon National Coordinators in Paris on the 5 December. The proposals of Cohen-Tanugi were discussed and a stakeholder seminar was held afterwards, but NGOs were invited belatedly and few were able to attend. The main focus was on how to drive forward the growth and job agenda in response to the crisis, and to make the EU the most innovative, knowledge-based and low-carbon economy. The main priorities were:” re investing in human capital, knowledge and innovation, modernising the labour markets, and drawing up active social cohesion policies, promoting “green” growth and an environment favourable to enterprises and economic activity”. Further meetings will be held of the National coordinators in February and April 2009, and until Spring 2010.
EAPN ACTIVITIES National Reform Programmes and Economic Recovery
EAPN has supported the Greens, Liberals and Socialist Groups proposals on demanding a greater focus on social rights and social impact in the crisis. A model letter has been sent to members to lobby MEP’s on a declaration (056/2009) on defending social rights in response to the crisis. The main demands are social impact assessment on the crisis, defence of social rights and demand for social conditionality in loan conditions by the IMF and the Commmission in their dealings with Latvia, Hungary and Romania.
October - EAPN published a special edition of the Anti Poverty MAG on the crisis, with contributions from EAPN networks.
EAPN members have returned questionnaires on the crisis and a draft report on the social impact of the crisis has been circulated for feedback by the 5th November. The report will be published by the end of the year.
EAPN members are asked to respond to the NRP implementation report questionnaire, assessing the responses to the crisis, once the reports are published on the website in November.
On the 20th July, EAPN sent out a questionnaire on the social impact of the crisis to its members on the 20th July, with response date by the 4th September. This will be followed by a further questionnaire linked the Implementation Reports of the NRP, with response date by the 31st of October. The first report will be finalised prior to the Round Table on Poverty and the second one by the end of December 2009
On the 8th July, EAPN sent letters to President Barroso and Group leaders of the EP prior to Barroso’s maiden speech on the 15th July. See: http://www.eapn.eu/content/view/1067/77/lang,en/
On the 8th of June, EAPN sent a letter to Prime Ministers prior to the June European Council, highlighting our short-term concerns on the crisis and long-term demands on post 2010
In March, following discussions with the SIWG and other working groups, EAPN lobbied the EPSCO and the Spring Council with 2 letters and press releases. The main focus was on the need to develop coherent short-term measures to limit the social impact of the crisis whilst developing a more comprehensive long-term strategy which built on the lessons of the failures of the current growth and jobs strategy and the economic model that underpins it. The specific demands were to support public investment in social protection, adequate minimum income and social services as vital tools to mitigate the social impact and invest in people. A key concern was the impact on NGO’s – their services and advocacy actions. In the press release whilst welcoming the confirmation of the need to support social protection systems EAPN highlighted our dissatisfaction with the lack of an integrated, cross-cutting approach to social impact or the unwillingness to use the crisis to stimulate a broader debate on the causes and weaknesses of the current strategy.
See Press Release/Letter to Spring Council
See Press Release and Letter to the EPSCO Council
EAPN is preparing a response to the new Communication together with a Reality Check highlighting current developments at member state level based on the member’s fiches.
September 2009: EAPN finalised a full colour print version of the EAPN position paper on post 2010: An EU we can trust, which has been distributed to decision-makers. Lobbying actions by national network and at EU level continue throughout the Autumn and until Spring 2010.
28 September, EAPN participated in the Spring Alliance conference launching the manifesto, involving President Barroso. EAPN presented social NGO’s demands to Mr Barroso.
EAPN held its seminar on the 29th May involving SIWG, EWG and SWG and outside stakeholders to agree proposals on the legacy for 2010 and proposals for a post 2010 Lisbon Strategy. The EAPN position paper was further discussed and endorsed at the EAPN GA in Vienna in the middle of June. It was forwarded to Prime Ministers, Barroso and the New Parliament in June and July. See more here.
EAPN is elected to the Steering Group of the Spring Alliance, as representative from the Management Ctee of the Social Platform.
The Spring Alliance manifesto is finalised on the 11 July. EAPN signed up and encouraged its member to do so. See www.springalliance.org
EAPN participated in the Spring Alliance interim seminar on the 17th June, in Brussels which tested out the draft manifesto on other stakeholders.
The manifesto will be launched in Brussels on the 28th September, with an intervention by President Barroso. Further events/lobbying planned in the run up to the Spring Council.
EAPN is also a key play in 2 broad alliances to build broader approaches to the crisis and a new post 2010 vision based on a social and sustainable development and global equity. The first is with the Spring Alliance (a joint alliance between the Social Platform the EEB and the ETUC). EAPN spoke at the launch conference on the 28/29th January 2009 and is chairing the working group on a new economic model.
The second alliance is with the cross-network alliance, involving a broad range of NGO’s linked to the European Social Forum and ATTAC. EAPN participated in the first meeting on January and will participate in the follow up meeting on the 18 and 19th April in Frankfurt.
EAPN also participated in the Alternative ECOFIN held in Prague on the 30 March – 1st April.
16 EAPN members (national networks and EOs) responded to the EAPN Questionnaire on the NRP 2008-10. The initial findings were published as Key Messages: Will the Economic Crisis force a stronger social pillar in Lisbon? EAPN social inclusion scoreboard on NRP 2008-10 on the 18th December 2008, coinciding with the EPSCO.
The full report will be published on the 6th February (see www.eapn.eu).
EAPN published a report on the Economic crisis to influence the debates leading to the European Economic Recovery Plan (2008 Annual Progress Report). ”From financial crisis to recovery – where is the strategy to combat poverty”. This was based on discussions in the SIWG, EXCO, EWG and SFWG in October and November. EAPN also contributed to the Social Platform position, following a joint meeting with representatives of the Secretariat General. It appears that some gains were made in the introduction of the horizontal principal on solidarity and social justice. But the social dimension remains still diluted. EAPN demanded a specific pillar focussing on social protection and social inclusion, including reinforcing minimum incomes and integrated active inclusion, investment in social as well as green jobs, and detailed monitoring by the EU of social impact. This has now been taken up by the SPC who will be delivering regular bulletins.
October 2008: the Lisbon Tool Kit has been updated.
EAPN has met with ETUC and MEP Anne Van Lancker to discuss the input into the Parliamentary Report on the Employment Guidelines and to Lisbon. The changes to the Guidelines text were agreed by the June Council and appear to include positive developments on governance and promoting integrated principles of active inclusion (see September 2008 EAPN briefing).
July 2008: EAPN has published an updated Lisbon Tool Kit in July, which will help its member engage with the National Reform Programme Process. This included lists of the new Lisbon Coordinators and bilateral meetings organized by the Commission.
May 2008: A revised coordination process has been agreed with the EXCO in May, and all working groups will participate in a preparing a national response to an agreed questionnaire.
March 2008: EAPN sent a letter the Prime Ministers prior to the Spring Council and published a Press Release on the eve of the Spring Council on the 13th and 14th March.