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High Expectations on the Belgian EU Presidency


02 Jul 2010


Social Europe & Jobs
EU Priorities 2020

Brussels, 02 July 2010 - Belgium has announced that social issues will be kept high on the EU agenda during the six months of its EU Presidency starting from 1 July.

As one of the key priorities, "promotion of social cohesion" will include:
•    Seeking social convergence on higher standards, based on objectives and monitoring indicators
•    Striving for concrete progress in the discussions about social services of general interest
•    Reinforcing the social 'safety net' throughout people's lives
•    Stressing the added value of the EU in the areas of health and ageing 
•    Focusing attention on violence against women
Belgium has traditionally been one of the EU's most attentive Member States in addressing social issues. Joining the call of other European stakeholders (see EurActiv 25/06/10), Caritas Europa hopes its presidency will ensure that social protection is safeguarded amid the proliferation of austerity budgets expected across Europe. Finding the right balance between economic growth and social protection will be a major challenge for the Belgian EU Presidency.

Europe 2020 and poverty reduction targets   

The June European Council has finalised and adopted the Europe 2020 strategy which will guide the EU growth strategies for the coming decade.

An agreement on poverty reduction targets was grounded out as part of this strategy (see EurActiv 08/06/10). However, it will fall to the Belgian Presidency to examine details and facilitate agreements among Member States about concrete ways of producing figures and targets. 

Following the adoption of Europe 2020, Caritas Europa has published its proposals to European decision-makers asking Member States to put into action Europe 2020 by aiming at strong and binding targets at national level.
The EU has set itself the goal to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. Reducing by 30% the number of people living below the national poverty lines, as recommended by Caritas, would lift over 25 million people out of poverty.

European Year 2010 and minimum income

The Belgian Presidency is being held during the second half of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Among the highlights of next months’ social agenda are discussions around a possible framework directive on minimum income, as well as high-level conferences on the themes of homelessness and child poverty.

While proposals for a possible framework directive on minimum income are likely to face steep resistance from EU countries with conservative governments, for Caritas Europa such a directive would allow for a lasting and concrete legacy to the 2010 European Year. Caritas recommends fully implementing the EU strategy for the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market, particularly by guaranteeing an adequate basic income as a right for people who do not have sufficient resources for dignified living conditions.

Following the recent vote in the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on the role of Minimum Income in combating poverty, Caritas Europa will continue to follow the adoption of this report as well as related developments at European and national level.

For further information please contact:
Annalisa Mazzella
Advocacy and Communication Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 03 94