European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan
The European Commission published its action plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) on 4 March 2021. This plan is meant to fulfil the promise made by the European Parliament, Council and Commission in 2017 that Europe’s unique economic and social model will create prosperity and opportunities for all.
The action plan sets out three headline targets – on the topics of employment, skills and social protection – to be achieved by 2030, with the main objective being the fight against poverty and social exclusion. According to the plan these targets will be transformed into various laws (directives) and sub-action plans in the coming months.
The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), that Emmaus Europe is a part of, has published an initial reaction to this action plan and has announced that a more in-depth analysis will follow. Here is what the EAPN has said about the action plan’s three headline targets:
This target aims to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by at least 15 million by 2030, out of which at least 5 million should be children. EAPN considers it essential that a poverty reduction target is one of the only three headline targets, however, the aim of reducing the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by at least 15 million by 2030 is a significant scaling back of the ambition of the Europe 2020 target of 20 million, especially in the context of Covid-19 pandemic.
For EAPN it is crucial that the action plan contains an initiative for a Council Recommendation on minimum income in 2022 to effectively support and complement the policies of Member States. Since this is no time for business as usual, EAPN strongly regrets that the action plan does not include a Framework Directive on Minimum Income, as a binding EU legislative proposal.
EAPN is also glad to see the action plan containing several initiatives relevant for the fight against poverty and social exclusion, such as an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, a Council Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee, a European Platform on Combating Homelessness or an action plan on the Social Economy.
A More In-Depth Analysis to Follow
Not least in the light of the devastating economic and social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, in upcoming in-depth assessments EAPN and its members will reflect on three key questions:
1. Can the action plan deliver on these promises and expectations, when it comes to the much-needed fight against poverty and social exclusion?
2. Can it help guarantee that everybody has the right and access to an adequate and enabling minimum income?
3. Can the different key initiatives effectively contribute to an improved rights-based access to social protection and affordable public services, including on health, care, housing and energy?