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18 June 2010 / EN

Territorial disparity and social exclusion – Strengthening cohesion policy for the well-being of citizens –

Poznan Declaration of the European People's Party Group in the Committee of the Regions

External meeting of the EPP Group in the CoR – Poznan, 18 June 2010

The European People’s Party Group in the Committee of the Regions

  1. welcomes the dedication of the European Year 2010 to combating poverty and social exclusion and recalls the importance of tackling all forms of poverty as one of the central priorities of the European Union;
  2. underlines that at least 78 million people in the European Union live at risk of poverty experiencing deprivation, restricted and unequal access to services as well as suffering from social exclusion and stresses that 19 million of these are children;
  3. recalls that poverty and social exclusion are complex and multidimensional issues which touch upon income, general living standards, education, decent work opportunities, effective social protection systems, housing, access to good-quality healthcare and other public services;
  4. firmly believes that local and regional authorities, being closest to citizens, represent the driving force which is most effective for an adequate, direct and supportive strategy to reduce poverty and social exclusion, and to make the national and European authorities aware of regional differences concerning poverty and social exclusion.
  5. highlights that increasing citizens’ awareness of poverty and exclusion is a necessary step towards breaking down stereotypes and reaching the objectives and implementing social inclusion policies;
  6. noting that unemployment is rising throughout the EU, recalls that young people in particular often face difficulties entering the labour market and need support in finding appropriate schemes to prepare them for a job;
  7. reiterates that the European People’s Party promotes a Union of values; solidarity, freedom and responsibility, dignity of the human person and subsidiarity are cornerstones of its political beliefs. Collective and individual responsibility must be encouraged to promote the right of an active life for and in the interest of all citizens;

    Cohesion policy:
  8. believes that through the implementation of an ambitious cohesion policy, the EU can promote a more cohesive society, showing the added value of social cohesion, facilitating the sustainable distribution of wealth and reducing marginalisation to a minimum;
  9. underlines that cohesion policy is the main tool for a harmonious and sustainable development of the EU territory, capable of ensuring the well-being of citizens and providing equal opportunities for all, as a way to help people to help themselves across the European Union
  10. in order to prevent depopulation deriving from a lack of economic development, underlines the importance of investing financial resources in horizontal projects aimed at supporting regions which are disadvantaged by geographical and natural factors;

  11. encourages regional and local authorities to contribute substantially to the initiatives dedicated to the European Year and to ensure that this year serves as a catalyst for longer-term actions against poverty and social exclusion;
  12. demands a more multilevel approach to this policy area involving local, regional, national and European level, and respecting the principle of subsidiarity recognised and reinforced in the Lisbon Treaty;
  13. welcomes that the Europe 2020 strategy sets ambitious poverty reduction targets alongside targets for innovation, education, renewable energy and employment so as to improve the living conditions of all generations; calls on the European Union to provide co-financing for projects in this field;
  14. is committed to develop the common initiative of the EPP Groups in the Committee of the Regions and European Parliament, and supported by the European People’s Party, to establish of a “Territorial Pact of Regional and Local Authorities on Europe 2020 Strategy”; its objective is to ensure a multi-level ownership of the strategy through an effective partnership between the European, national, regional and local public authorities, especially when it comes to the design and implementation of the Europe 2020 headline targets and flagship initiatives;
  15. believes that the “Territorial Pact” will contribute to the Europe 2020’s Flagship Initiative: “European Platform against Poverty” by developing a territorialised social inclusion agenda, in order to make local social services more effective and accessible to all and to integrate people who are excluded from the labour market;
  16. highlights that support to all young people is essential in order to give them the possibility to fully develop their talents and potential; believes that young people should develop their skills not only in schools but also in the family, and in voluntary work and organisations; reminds that local and regional authorities are closest to the young people’s lives, and are therefore crucial in providing a framework for their development;
  17. encourages regional and local authorities to provide support for the protection of the family, which is the basis for the harmonious and sustainable development of society;
  18. underlines the importance of guidance and household assistance in order to stimulate the awareness of families and individuals of the consequences of taking out loans. In this respect calls for higher responsibility to be assumed by the banks when considering these loans and for information campaigns to be organised, ensuring people are made aware of the hidden and running costs of financial products;
  19. Measures can be taken as part of regional and local social welfare policies to inform about small interest-free loans for families that are temporarily experiencing financial difficulties and that might otherwise fall victim to what have been termed “new” forms of poverty.
  20. asks that local and regional authorities increase their investments in education and vocational skills as a means to eliminate the phenomenon of intergenerational poverty, which can significantly reduce the level of social exclusion;
  21. stresses the need to safeguard and promote the development of SMEs, which are today at risk due to the unfavourable economic circumstances; reiterates that SMEs provide employment to all EU regions and help create economic cohesion by developing decentralised manufacturing;
  22. emphasises the need for a stronger social economy and social enterprises as innovative tools of local development aimed at the activation of persons in a difficult life situation. Social enterprises, acting in the area of social integration services, and the provision of public services and goods can contribute to sustainable social development and to economic growth in regions and cities;
  23. recalls that the fight against poverty and social exclusion requires action at all levels; therefore encourages regional and local authorities to open a permanent dialogue with non-profit organisations acting in the area of social solidarity and to substantially support bottom-up civil initiatives; also encourages them to cooperate within Local Partnerships representing public, non-governmental and private sectors and where small communities are active in the economic, educational and cultural areas; asks that local and regional authorities are helped to develop a social infrastructure aimed at the coordination of such cooperation within Local Partnerships;
  24. highlights that the Polish Charter of Solidarity is in line with the Christian and democratic values and represents a good example of bringing social order and applying the rule of collective and individual responsibility in public life; urges that people working in the social sector get the appropriate recognition in terms of education and training, appropriate working conditions and a salary that is in line with their responsibilities.
  25. believes that solidarity is a basic value for building modern Europe. A successful future will depend on observing the principles of freedom, democracy and subsidiarity, and including all citizens in the public and economic life of the Union.