Social Platform hosts virtual roundtable with UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights

On 9 December, Social Platform organised a virtual roundtable with UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Mr Olivier de Schutter, who is undertaking an official mission to EU institutions to examine the impact of the European Union’s policies on the eradication of poverty. In this context, he is meeting with a variety of actors, including EU institutions, civil society organisations, and individuals affected by poverty. The objective of roundtables with various civil society organisations is to provide the Special Rapporteur with a variety of viewpoints related to the role of EU-level policy instruments in addressing poverty, inequality, and social exclusion, and to discuss what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.

During Social Platform’s roundtable, Social Platform Vice-President Shannon Pfohman and a delegation of interested members provided input on challenges and opportunities within the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar) Action Plan, the social dimension of the European Green Deal, the European Semester process and the budget for recovery as well as the Social Scoreboard.

In its intervention on the Social Pillar, Ms Pfohman presented several key messages from Social Platform’s recent analysis on the Social Pillar Action Plan, focusing on key features that the Action Plan must contain in our view to reach

On the European Green Deal, she highlighted the lacking social dimension of the European Green Deal, which aims at ensuring a just transition, focusing mainly on regions, sectors and workers who will have to make the largest changes to achieve the EU’s transition towards becoming climate-neutral by 2050. While this is important, Social Platform stressed that it is equally crucial to ensure more fair and inclusive societies. This involves paying particular attention to the groups of people in the most vulnerable situations, who have already been left behind or are at risk of poverty and social exclusion; and will be especially vulnerable to the needed changes to achieve this transition.

With regards to the European Semester process, she presented key messages from Social Platform’s recent analysis on the 2020 European Semester process that also looks at developments in the 2021 cycle including the first package of 2021 Autumn Package documents published in September 2020 and makes recommendations for the future of the process.

Finally, she made several points with regards to the Social Scoreboard, which tracks trends and performances across EU countries in 12 areas and feeds into the European Semester process. She highlighted that monitoring the performance in 12 areas means that it does not cover the 20 principles of the Social Pillar. Moreover, it uses averages, which does not really support strengthening social standards but rather leads to averaging them. In addition, the Social Scoreboard is not sufficiently disaggregated by gender and various groups in vulnerable situations, therefore overlooking their specific situations and barriers.

On all four topics, Social Platform’s member organisations added key information about specific thematic challenges and opportunities for the constituencies they represent, including but not limited to women, children, young people, older persons, persons experiencing poverty and social exclusion, persons with disabilities, Roma, migrants, social workers, service providers and social economy actors.

Mr de Schutter will present some preliminary results of his mission during a press conference on 29 January and will publish a report presenting his final results in the summer of 2021.