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 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all.

In a world where scientific, technological, and knowledge developments allowed an unprecedented level of productivity in the known history of Humanity, that could guarantee decent living conditions to all the world population, it is unacceptable that the concentration of wealth is presently at the same level as it was in 1905. Around 25 individuals possess the same wealth as the poorest half of the world population (3,8 billion people) that live in conditions that do not guarantee decent living standards, facing, in large contexts extreme and unspeakable poverty conditions.

On October 17, we mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Its proclamation in 1992 by the United Nations expresses the need to draw attention to the problems of inequality, poverty, and social exclusion. These problems effectively reside primarily in incomes, but also reflect a multidimensional context that needs structural and structured answers: employment policies that protect rights and dignify workers; wages that guarantee the quality of life; universal and quality public services; sustained social responses that leave no one behind; access to basic rights as health, education, and housing, among others.

Recurrent statistical information ensures that, in the current productive reality, there are more than sufficient conditions to end world poverty, if another distribution model would be in place. However, even in so-called developed realities, poverty and social exclusion are permanent and deepening problems, which seem to have no resolution.

The reality of the European Union is, in this respect, paradigmatic. Indeed, regardless of some variations associated with economic cycles, approximately 1/4 of its population (109 million according to the last data available) continues to live below the poverty line and a considerable part of the population lives with a few euros above this statistical measurement. This figure reflects a reality marked by growing inequalities of redistribution of wealth, disinvestment in public services and social protection, deregulation and precarious working conditions, structural unemployment, devaluation of wages, absence of public responses that promote social and territorial cohesion. In short, it reflects the EU’s neoliberal growth policies.

The crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and is aggravating this reality.

However, a world free of poverty is possible, and it is about what we choose to value, what we prioritise, and the political choices we make. People who live in poverty have the essential knowledge to find the right solutions and are on the front line in the fight against poverty.

It is, therefore, in the light of the principles that guide the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which specific theme in 2020 is “Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all”, urgent to demand concrete measures that can contribute to combating the scourge of poverty and exclusion.

 

  1. Active policies that seek the reversal of growing inequalities in wealth distribution with sound policies of social justice with real wage increases, fair tax policies, the end of precarious working conditions, open-ended contracts as standard, regulation, and reduction of working time, together with progressive enlargement of social rights.

 

  1. An overarching EU anti-poverty strategy, with ambitious targets for reducing poverty and ending extreme poverty in Europe by 2030, in respect of the principles laid down in the European Pillar of Social Rights and taking into account the environmental compromises and the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

  1. A guarantee that the economic and financial recovery measures and their impact in the future, namely when loans need to be repaid, will not be an extra burden for the most vulnerable. Social responsible public investment and tax justice will be key tools to finance the recovery, and must be prioritised at all levels to ensure that people experiencing poverty do not pay for the recovery.

 

  1. A framework Directive to guarantee adequate, accessible, and enabling Minimum Income schemes for everyone who needs it and throughout the life cycle. This would recognize that strong social protection schemes must be a crucial component of more resilient and more cohesive societies. Concretely, we call on the Commission to propose a concrete EU instrument to guarantee adequate, accessible, and enabling income support, respecting the different national practices, social and civil dialogue, and laws of the Member States, but that guarantees a decent livelihood to every individual.

 

  1. An EU Framework for national homelessness strategies. This Framework should include activities such as data collection, the monitoring of policy progress, and the promotion of best practices. The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESF+ in particular) should be used to address homelessness.

 

  1. Ensure that funds in the proposed ESF+ are ring-fenced for effective combat against poverty and social exclusion, namely by boosting public investments in health, education, training, housing, and in transport services, that guarantee universal and comprehensive responses. It is crucial that a continued and reinforced support for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived is assured to support organizations and institutions reacting in the short-term to the covid-19 crisis, thus preventing some of the harshest consequences on the mid- to long term.

 

  1. Last but not least, we must take seriously the participation of people experiencing poverty and their representative organisations in the definition, implementation, and evaluation of the policies concerning them.

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