Ending poverty remains a problem
The EU Presidency expert roundtable conference on poverty and social exclusion, which ended in Tampere 17 October, debated the poverty situation in Europe. The final day of the conference marked the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In Europe too poverty is a pressing problem.
It also looked at ways of tackling and preventing the problem at both the Union and national levels. Over 300 people took part in the conference - civil servants from member and applicant states, decision-makers, experts and representatives of leading anti-poverty NGOs.
Background material prepared for the conference was added to by four workshops.
The working groups emphasised that attention needs to be given to the implementation of decisions and not just the planning and running programmes.
The working group discussing labour force matters stressed the need for active employment polices. Employment has to be actively promoted and participation in it supported by policy. At the same time, employers’ and labour market organisations need to pay better attention to the needs of individuals, families and employees.
The working group dealing with social services emphasised the importance of realising social participation. Social services ensure consistency but are also an investment in economic sustainability, employment and social development. The working group noted that not enough emphasis is given to social impacts in different policy sectors. Policy that stresses social participation is an important feature, for instance, of social protection and employment policy, but has less of an emphasis in health and societal planning work.
The working groups also affirmed that the national action plans will help assure the realisation of standards of the social rights of employees in the EU.
A special mini-seminar was held in connection with the roundtable marking the International Day Against Poverty. This discussed the depiction of poverty in the media and the role of the media in the struggle against poverty. A programme produced by YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, which was shown and debated at the seminar, will be screened on the Finnish TV2 channel on 17 October at 21.00.
Participants shown examples of local service system
The conference programme included visits to different parts of Tampere to look at seven different examples of services. These included visits to a school, a day care centre, and to learn about social and health service activity and organisation. The choice of site visits sought to emphasise that in Finland all groups of the population, from poor to rich, weak to strong, are entitled to the same public services, and that welfare services are equally for all.
A second feature of the national model presented to the delegates was that the prevention of poverty and social exclusion is a feature of all basic services. The problem is not only tackled through special projects and projects. The experts taking part in the roundtable meeting were in broad agreement that the Finnish way of organising welfare services has succeeded and Finland should serve as a strong model for services.
End of five-year programme
The prevention and rolling back of poverty and social exclusion represent some of the hardest challenges facing the EU and its member states. The Tampere conference sought to further work in this area. It was the last event of the five year action programme on poverty and social exclusion. Its experiences will be carried forward to the new PROGRESS programme, which starts next year and runs until 2013.
Deputy Director General Reijo Väärälä, tel: (09) 160 73773, 050 5002214, [email protected]
Director of Development Klaus Halla, tel: (09) 160 73029, 050 5599178, [email protected]