This opinion (rapporteur: Mr.Boland (GRIII), corapporteur: Ms Bulk (GRII) was adopted during the EESC's plenary session of 17 and 18 February 2016 (meeting of 18 February) by 197 votes to 4, with 4 abstentions.
- supports the intention of the Dutch Presidency of the Council to address poverty through integrated approaches and through cooperation with public and private stakeholders, but finds that these stakeholders should be supported by European and national strategies;
- urges the EU Council to reiterate the commitment made in the Europe 2020 strategy, namely to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line by at least 20 million by 2020 and recommends that, when doing so, it take into account the Sustainable Development Goals;
- recommends that the European Semester focus on the Europe 2020 poverty reduction target;
- calls for a move away from EU economic policies which continue to be only austerity-orientated;
- urges Member States to launch their own national strategies to fight poverty, and, when doing so, to seek guidance from the Commission's "Recommendation on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market", with its three strands (1. Adequate income support, 2. Inclusive labour markets and 3. Access to quality services);
- requests that the Commission pursue an ambitious and wide-ranging social investment agenda and promote this in all phases of the European Semester and that Member States implement the 2013 Social Investment Package;
- calls on the Commission to propose new guidelines for consulting stakeholders in the social field, allowing them to provide input at all stages of the process: design, delivery and evaluation;
- asks the Commission to consult Member States and stakeholders to find out whether the decision to earmark 20% of the European Social Fund (ESF) to promote social inclusion and fight poverty is being implemented;
- strongly encourages the Commission to include principles for more effective and reliable social standards and systems in the announced "European pillar of social rights" and to make fighting poverty and social exclusion one of the major components of that pillar.