European Commission on Europe 2020: more civil society involvement is welcomed

In the context of the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy, AGE participated on 26 June 2014 in a seminar organised by the Social Platform (the coordination of social NGOs in Brussels) and aimed at exposing a common position to the Secretariat General of the European Commission. The main issues addressed by the seminar were: the coherence between Europe 2020 targets; the attainment of the social targets; and a wider stakeholder engagement. The social NGOs in Brussels regreted that in the Europe 2020 strategy, economic and financial goals are given the priority before social goals.

AGE also participated in the development of Social Platform’s common position paper on the mid-term of Europe 2020, calling for more possibilities for civil society to contribute to the European Semester process.

AGE: ensure better consistency of policy objectives

During the seminar, AGE took the opportunity to point to the inconsistencies the implmentation of the European Semester versus the objectives of the Euroep 2020 strategy, in particular in the social field. In some member states, pensions have been reduced all while raising the costs of health care – both taken together result in some older people being hit double by the measures taken by the member states – undermining the target of shifting more people out of poverty. A better coordination between national ministries and a better involvement of civil society in the drafting of National Reform Programmes could mitigate these inconsistencies. Also, better information on the progress on all headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy can lead to a better knowledge and acceptance of the process on national level.

Other calls: more transparency, more inclusiveness, ensure the social objectives of the strategy

Participants insisted on the lack of national action plans to implement social dimension of Europe 2020 and the missing follow-up to on targets and direct links to other European initiatives. It has been pointed out that while regarding poverty reduction, it is the area where member states lag most behind the initial target, almost no country has received recommendation on poverty reduction. Also, while the Commission focusses much on female employment to reduce the gender pension gap in the future, the current gap of 39% is not being addressed. Also, the involvement of civil society could be improved by the Commission calling for shadow reports, such as it is currently being done by the UN human rights treaty bodies. The challenges of national civil society organisations to get involved with their governments to draft the National Reform Programmes and to discuss the implementation of Country-Specific Recommendations were also addressed. However, an open consultation process could improve the attainment of the strategy, by bringing in the expertise of national civil society and by creating the missing link between different policy areas.

The Commission representative welcomed many proposals, stressing that the Commission also needs inputs from civil society to get a broader picture. However, it has to be waited for a new Commission coming into office in autumn to see which ones could be implemented. The Commission called upon civil society organisations to be creative and to provide the Commission with their analysis, arguments and specific knowledge.

AGE will participate in this year’s public consultation on Europe 2020 and is involved to follow the European Semester on a regular basis.

For more information, please contact Philippe Seidel,

and Maciej Kucharczyk,

Background information

The European Commission has taken stock of the strategy, running since 2010, pointing out that the targets of reducing poverty by 20 million and bringing employment of 20-65-year-olds to 75% have not marked any progress. On the contrary, 10 million more people are at risk of poverty in 2012, while employment only stands at 68%. The Commission wants to know in a public consultation whether the targets are the right ones and whether the tools used, namely the European Semester process, can be improved. Other targets of the Europe 2020 strategy include reducing the rate of early school leavers, improving energy efficiency, reducing CO2 output and investment in research and development.

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