Brussels, 10 December 2010 - The symbolic hand-over took place during the panel discussion on the future of the fight against poverty in times of crisis and austerity measures that Caritas Europa organised on Wednesday, 8th of December in the framework of the Closing Conference of the . A yearlong Europe-wide campaign conducted by the 48 European Caritas organisations to denounce and raise awareness on the scandal of poverty in
The panel was composed by Mr. Philippe Courard on behalf of the Belgian Presidency of the EU, Mr. Arnoldas Abramivicius from the Committee of the Regions, Ms. Antonia Carparelli from the European Commission and Mr. Jorge Nuño Mayer, from Caritas Europa.
Moderated by EPC Senior Economist and Policy Analyst, Mr. Fabian Zuleeg, the panelists centered very much their discussion on the expectations that the forthcoming Europe 2020 strategy is going to bring about. Particularly, the initiative about creating a European platform against poverty. Another “hot” issue of discussion was economic growth.
Concerning the discussion about the European platform against poverty, the Committee of the Regions sees it as a great opportunity to enhance and strengthen the involvement and, consequently, the accountability of local authorities regarding the implementation and achievement of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. Mr. Abramavicius presented the Committee’s proposal for a territorial pact, which would allow this process and which has already gained the support of the Belgian Presidency. In this respect, Mr. Jorge Nuño Mayer renewed Caritas Europa’s commitment to contributing to Europe 2020. He also emitted some concerns about the shift in the way the Commission is referring about the people in the strategy: “With Europe 2020 the EU is making a shift from the way of looking at people. You do not longer talk about citizens but about workers and consumers. This shift concerns us greatly.”
Growth was mentioned by all panelists as being of pivotal relevance for the creation of wealth and welfare. Ms. Carparelli stressed the Commission’s point of view that poverty cannot be tackled with social initiatives only and underlined that “We need growth, efficient welfare systems and employment policies to efficiently address this problem. But we also need a stronger commitment from Member states since core social legislation remains under Member states’ responsibility.”
Secretary General Jorge Nuño Mayer and the 130,000 voices against poverty
Nevertheless, Mr. Jorge Nuño Mayer made a plea for the Commission to change tack regarding the current importance given to growth: “Growth is being presented as a dogma. But growth does not automatically imply life improvement for all. Many Member states, like my own country
During the event, Mr. Nuño Mayer showed to the panelists two boxes wrapped in Zero Poverty posters that contained over 130,000 signatures from across Europe: “These are the voices of 130,000 citizens from across Europe that want to urge you to tackle unemployment, eradicate child poverty, strengthen and modernise our welfare systems and integrate the social excluded.”
The signatures will be presented to EU-authorities by Caritas Internationalis General Secretary and EU Ambassador for the European Year 2010, Lesley-Ann Knight at the Official Closing Conference of the European Year 2010 that will be held on 16-17 December.