Social organisations push for new approach
By Sophie Petitjean | Tuesday 26 June 2012
In the run-up to the European Council of 28-29 June, different social organisations have urged the heads of state and government to take a new approach and to place citizens at the heart of their decisions. The Spring Alliance – which brings together trade union, environmental and social organisations – finds that the country-specific recommendations set to be endorsed at the meeting go in the wrong direction.
“Despite recent declarations on the need for growth, the main focus of economic governance is still austerity measures and cuts in budget expenditures. The first priority of all the country-specific recommendations is always correcting an excessive budget deficit […] and the fight against poverty is manifestly absent,” reads a 21 June letter from the alliance. It calls for an alternative recovery plan based on inclusive growth, quality jobs, affordable housing, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the independence of the social partners and the European Parliament’s participation in the ‘European semester’ exercise.
The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) reiterates this message in a letter dated 26 June, stressing investments in active inclusion and social protection. The European Youth Forum has also written to the EU leaders to voice concerns over the low level of investments in youth policies and support for improvement of the situation in the EU budget for 2014-2020.
The organisation known as ‘European Citizens for decisions, not bla bla bla!!!’ has chosen a different approach to making its voice heard: on 28 June, it will hold a flash mob outside the European Parliament. “There is no more time to waste! The next European Council cannot be the 25th meeting in a row where no decision is taken. European leaders must deliver a strong message to both the markets and European citizens: Europe exists and it will continue to exist! The problem is not Europe in this crisis, the problem is that there is not enough Europe,” explained the event organiser, Michael Villa, who added that whistles will be handed out to participants.
The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) has also sent a letter to Europe’s leaders to denounce cuts in health budgets. Co-signed by nine MEPs from across the political spectrum and 65 organisations, the letter warns against the irreversible long-term consequences of recent decisions. “European leaders must realise that cutting spending on essential services, such as health, particularly in primary care and early intervention, is a false savings. It will drive up long-term costs, leading to the re-emergence of communicable diseases and put the burden on those people who can afford it least,” reads the letter.