The European Commission and the Spanish Presidency of the EU has on 21 January 2010 launched the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.
Under the slogan “Stop Poverty Now!”, the campaign aims to put the fight against poverty – which directly affects one in six Europeans – centre stage across the EU during 2010. European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will inaugurate the Year at a launch event to be held tomorrow in Madrid.
"Combating poverty and social exclusion is an integral part of getting out of the crisis. It is too often the vulnerable in society who end up being hardest hit by the impacts of a recession. That is why the European Year 2010 should act as a catalyst to raise awareness and build momentum for a more inclusive society which is part and parcel of the EU’s future 2020 strategy that I have proposed" said Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso (see speech).
Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities added: “One in six people in Europe face a daily struggle to make ends meet, but poverty can also affect the rest of us – and our societies as a whole. While most of the tools for tackling poverty are at national level, three-quarters of Europeans also expect the EU to help. The European Year puts this issue at the top of the agenda so that Europe as a whole can join forces to fight poverty and social exclusion." (see speech)
Almost 80 million Europeans – or 17% of people across the EU – currently live below the poverty threshold. This alarming fact has found a strong echo in public opinion, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey on attitudes to poverty. The vast majority of Europeans (73%) consider poverty to be a widespread problem in their country, with 89% calling for urgent action by their government to tackle the problem. While most people consider their national government as primarily responsible, 74% also expect the EU to play an important role.
The 2010 European Year aims to raise greater awareness of the causes and consequences of poverty in Europe, both among key players such as governments and social partners and among the public at large. It also aims to mobilise these different partners in the fight against poverty; promote social integration and inclusion; and encourage clear commitments on drawing up EU and national policies to tackle poverty and social exclusion.
The Year's activities will be largely decentralised, with national programmes drawn up by each of the 29 countries taking part (the 27 EU countries plus Norway and Iceland). A €17 million budget will support awareness-raising campaigns at European and national levels and hundreds of national projects linked to the different national priorities.
The European Year communication campaign will include a journalists’ competition, an art initiative and two 'focus weeks', when various national events around the EU will be concentrated over two weeks in May and in October. The Year will end with a closing conference on 17 December in Brussels, under the Belgian Presidency of the EU.
The campaign website (http://www.2010againstpoverty.eu) includes a partners' platform to stimulate networking and joint initiatives among key actors, such as civil society organisations, local and regional authorities. The website will also showcase events held in each of the participating countries.