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How can social NGOs contribute to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy? This was the topic of the meeting between the Social Platform and Troika at the informal meeting of the Ministers for Employment, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) in Cyprus on Thursday. Indeed, social NGOs like SOLIDAR have expertise not only as European policy advocates, but principally because our members are at the forefront of the social consequences of this crisis and are finding responses to the urgent social needs and social challenges in a creative and socially innovative manner.
Yes, we are part of civil dialogue on EU level - which still does not work quite as it should - but apparently there remains reluctance or misunderstanding from certain EU stakeholders to fully include us in negotiations. Whereas the European Commission takes our contributions seriously, it seems that others have not understood the role of the "corps intermediaries" and what our field of competences are. If we do not have expertise, why would the EP’s Regional Development Committee have put NGOs and social partners in the second row when it comes to the design and implementation of European Structural Funds, like the European Social Fund (ESF).
We may remind readers that the under spending of the ESF in the current financing period is the sole responsibility of public administrations in several EU Member States, and not the result of a lack of ambitious project proposals by social NGOs. It is the Member States who do not commit to the Europe 2020 Strategy’s objective of lifting 20 million people out of poverty by 2020, and therefore the current figures are stagnating around a modest 12 million.
We are in favour of a real partnership principle in the ESF, yes, but based on equality! As Elisabeth Schrödter MEP (Greens/EFA) wrote in her statement on the recent ESF vote (see article), this is a missed opportunity and has consequences for the capacity of meeting social needs, in particular in those Member States under the threat of austerity measures.
Conny Reuter, Secretary General
NB: The Weekly Round Up will be taking a break, coming back on 7 September with a new look! We wish you all a hopefully good summer, and for those who are able to take holidays, a restful break for being able to put full energy in tackling the crisis and fighting for social justice worldwide!