Magazine article European Social Policy

Social Affairs Council : Ministers Agree on Poverty Reduction Target

Magazine article European Social Policy

Social Affairs Council : Ministers Agree on Poverty Reduction Target

Article excerpt

The European Union will indeed set the target of reducing by 20 million the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion by 2020, even if this means reviewing this figure and its related indicators in 2015. The 27 employment and social affairs ministers, meeting on 7 June in Luxembourg, agreed on this EU target - one of the components of the future ten-year Europe 2020' economic strategy - and on how to define the risk of poverty and exclusion.

There was no guarantee they would succeed. In March, the heads of state and government had tasked their ministers with reviewing this matter in the absence of agreement on indicators at the time. During the exchange of views in the Employment, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Council, Italy, the Czech Republic and Poland seemed unenthusiastic. "Too high a target that wouldn't be reached would be regrettable," argued the Czech Republic. "We would prefer a less ambitious objective or at least a compromise objective, such as reducing the number of poor by 20 million as far as possible'." The three countries nevertheless accepted the conclusions tabled by the Spanish EU Presidency, which proposes to the European Council "that the quantitative target set by the Europe 2020' strategy for social inclusion should be worded in a way so as to call for reducing by 20 million the number of persons at risk of poverty and exclusion by 2020" and "accepting the three indicators proposed by the Social Protection Committee" (SPC).

The member states now have to choose the indicator on which they will base their calculations and, over the longer term, their efforts. Based on the work of the SPC, the Presidency suggested three indicators: 1. income: persons living with less than 60% of the national median income; 2. material deprivation, ie people who experience at least four out of nine identified deprivation situations (not having essential goods); and 3. …

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