More than 120 million people in the EU face the risk of poverty or social exclusion
Grassroots organisations working to alleviate poverty in Germany, Ireland, France, Poland and Finland show the way in providing direct assistance to those in need. The European Economic and Social Committee has dedicated the 2015 European Civil Society Prize to organisations distinguishing themselves through their creativity and success in combatting poverty.
Poverty and social exclusion includes many multi-faceted challenges such as housing, health, education, access to employment, indebtedness and addiction, to name but a few. Civil society organisations across the European Union are actively addressing these issues. Activities often focus on local needs and – crucially – directly involve people experiencing poverty themselves in their implementation.
"The right to a decent life is a fundamental human right and poverty undermines all aspects of well-being in society, including education, long-term health, and family relationships. It damages the future potential of individuals and the whole community. Civil society organisations across the European Union are struggling to address poverty during these difficult financial times. In awarding the 2015 Civil Society Prize, the EESC is recognising outstanding initiatives which are making a difference in combating poverty in Europe", said EESC President George Dassis.
Five projects were chosen from a list of over 100 wide ranging and high calibre project submissions:
According to Ms Jean Lambert MEP, one of the four assessors; "What we can see is that there is a range of issues which are drawing more and more attention – issues to do with homelessness or food. Some of these were in a way quite shocking because they show that we are still failing to meet basic human needs and human rights."
Representatives of the winning organisations will travel to Brussels on 10 December to attend the award ceremony where the ranking of the projects will be announced and the awards given by EESC President, Georges Dassis. EUR 50 000 will be shared among the five winning projects, with the intention that this money will be reinvested in projects providing further care in the community.
The Civil Society Prize jury comprised the EESC President, the two EESC Vice-Presidents, the President of the Employers' Group, the President of the Various Interests Group, a member of the Workers' Group, and the EESC Secretary-General. The jury chose the five winners, based on a shortlist of eleven, put together by four member external expert panel.
In recent years, the EESC has taken many initiatives in favour of poverty eradication. The EESC has submitted formal opinions to the EU institutions and organised many events. These have targeted issues such as poverty reduction and child poverty, measures to reduce social exclusion, the growing problem of the "working poor", the introduction of a minimum income at European level, fairer taxation, and the need to include social measures when planning and implementing EU policies in areas like the single market and the single currency.
The Civil Society Prize, now in its seventh year, is awarded for “excellence in civil society initiatives”. Each year, the prize covers a different aspect of the EESC’s activities. The 2014 prize was dedicated to civil society organisations working to integrate Roma communities.
Further details about the 2015 Civil Society Prize are available here.
For more information, please contact:
Siana Glouharova - EESC Press Unit
Tel: +32 2 546 92 76/ Mob: + 32 (0) 473 53 40 02
 Ms Jean Lambert, MEP, Mr Stefan Olsson, European Commission Director, Ms Maureen O'Neill, Former SOC section president and Ms Anne Van Lancker, former MEP