EU launches 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion 2010

The European Commission and the Spanish Presidency of the EU will tomorrow launch 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.

The European Year is a one-year Europe-wide programme to raise awareness of poverty and social exclusion among civil society, national governments and the public at large. It was designated by the European Parliament and approved by the Council of Ministers in October 2008 following a proposal by the European Commission.

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.

TheEuropean Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion has four main objectives:

  1. To recognise the fundamental right of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion to live in dignity and to take an active part in society;
  2. To promote shared collective and individual responsibility in combating poverty and social exclusion, and fostering commitment by all public and private actors;
  3. To promote a more cohesive society, as society as a whole benefits from the eradication of poverty;
  4. To take concrete action to renew the pledge of the EU and its Member States to combat poverty and social exclusion.

A wide variety of activities are planned, including information campaigns, innovative initiatives, debates, conferences and competitions highlighting achievements and successful projects connected with the EY2010 theme.

At European level, the key events will be:

  • Opening Conference in Madrid on 21 January 2010 (Spanish Presidency conference);
  • Competition for journalists at national and EU levels;
  • Initiative on the role of art in social inclusion;
  • Spring focus week - to concentrate a number of projects over a short period in May 2010 to increase visibility at the time of the conference on people facing poverty;
  • Autumn focus week - to apply the same idea at the time of the Round Table on poverty and social inclusion and the International Day against Poverty (17 October);
  • Closing conference in Brussels in December: awarding of prizes to journalists and artists (Belgian Presidency conference).

At national level, there will be hundreds of individual projects linked to national priorities and the objectives of the European Year. The national programmes are available in the website of the European Year 2010

The EY 2010 has a budget of €17 million. The aim is to create momentum so that governments and other stakeholders are encouraged to tackle poverty and social exclusion with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.

Of this, €9 million is dedicated to actions in the participating countries. This will be complemented by an equivalent amount coming from national authorities and even more if other sources or sponsors are committed. So in practice, at least €18 million will be dedicated to national or local activities.