Social Platform's 2011 Annual Report
Refresh your memory on what happened last year - our 2011 Annual Report is now available to download.
Look back at the busy year we had, what we achieved, what obstacles we overcame and the thoughts of our President and Director.
Here's a sneak peak at the Message from Pierre Baussand and Conny Reuter.
There is one word to remember 2011 - austerity. Four words to summarise our actions â€“ bringing a social dimension.
In less than two years we witnessed EU leaders ignoring their commitment to strive toward an inclusive, sustainable and smart recovery through the Europe 2020 Strategy. We knew the Strategy would not alone bring a social dimension to the EU however after only one year it looked like a minimum step they would not even take. Itâ€™s now clear that member states will not reach their commitment to lift 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. While unemployment has steadily increased reaching 10.1% (24.3 million) and young people have been particularly affected with an unprecedented unemployment rate of 22.4% (5.5 million).
The new motto for the EU has become â€śbudget consolidation and austerity measuresâ€ť in response to the demands of the financial markets. Alerted by our members to the situation on the ground we instead proposed a Social Pact to achieve an inclusive recovery. A Social Pact that swaps cost cutting with investment in social infrastructures as provision for our future. We asked EU leaders for concrete action on social issues in all EU policies - specifically on poverty and social exclusion, equality, social infrastructure, and services of general interest. We also called on them to respect Article 9 of the Lisbon treaty so that EU and national budgets comply with â€śrequirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human healthâ€ť.
We fought for a social dimension in the European economic governance to ensure the cohesiveness of a sustainable European society. We deliberated with the Employment and Social Affairs Ministers in January and July, addressed Heads of State in March and June and spoke at the first European Convention of the Platform against Poverty. We called on member states to include concrete actions in their commitment to implementing the poverty target. Instead, they adopted the Euro+ Pact and the Six Pack for greater budget consolidation and more austerity measures. The result: a lack of democratic legitimacy and more social difficulties for the people. From Greece to Portugal, Italy and Spain, from England to Belgium, the indignant protested against cuts in social protection such as welfare, health, front line social care, pensions and education.
Furthermore we battled for a social dimension in the EU budget. To counterbalance the worst effects of the austerity measures we made several proposals ahead of the Multi-Annual Framework (2014 â€“ 2020) and related funds to guarantee they support inclusive policies. For the European Social Fund and EU Programme for Social Change and Innovation our aim was to guarantee that quality employment, quality services, the poverty and social inclusion objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy would receive sufficient funding and to ensure that civil society is a partner in designing and implementing the funds. We met with the Parliament and the Commission to demonstrate that there is a social dimension to all EU financial instruments. For example in the Common Agricultural Policy there is a need to combat rural exclusion, in the Regional fund energy efficiency is an appropriate support to combatting energy poverty, and the transport fund can be used to finance accessible public transport for people with disabilities or older people.
Our energy was also focused on bringing a social dimension to the internal market. There are areas in our societies where market rules should not apply. We therefore took action not only to ensure that social services would not be negatively impacted by the revised rules of state aid and public procurement but also to ensure that they recognise and protect the specificities of social services. Through these advocacy campaigns we have opened the door for continued dialogue with the Commissioners on Competition and the Internal Market.
There can be no social dimension of the EU without promoting and defending fundamental rights. Despite the support of the Commission and the European Parliament member states have for three years hidden behind budget difficulties in refusing to adopt an Anti-Discrimination Directive in access to goods and services and a Maternity Leave Directive that would ensure all pregnant women have a full salary and protection against dismissal. Our interventions in the Parliament and the Council have been to ensure the proposals were not thrown off the negotiation table. Considering the intention of the Council is to reject both Directives this result is more important than it seems. The austerity measures have also emphasized how social conditions (such as poverty and social exclusion) prevent people from accessing fundamental rights. We therefore called on the Commission and the Fundamental Rights Agency at the 5th Equality Summit in November to specifically address this issue.
Finally after two years of work, we released our recommendations on Care that showed that care polices and services are not a cost as they are generally perceived, but are indeed a social investment for the sustainability of European societies and an under exploited source of employment.
In 2012 economic governance, the EU budget, the internal market and fundamental rights remain at the top of our priorities as these have a direct impact on the lives of the most vulnerable. We will present the EU with the components of our Social Pact. We will present the Council and the Parliament with our proposals on the different EU funds which are minimum requirements for supporting inclusive policies. We will watch the internal market proposals for access to bank services, the social business initiative and the role of social enterprises in our societies. We will continue to promote the creation of quality employment to fight against the rise of the â€śprecariatâ€ť, working poor for whom employment is not a way out of social exclusion.
The EU is back once again to the growth and jobs agenda that was not successful in the past. The reason - growth at any cost is not what people want, they want an inclusive growth based on solidarity and social justice. These battles are led by social NGOs.