European Anti-Poverty Network – analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the EU Constitutional Treaty

April 2005

EAPN, at EU and national level, has argued in successive Treaty negotiations, for:

  • Naming the eradication of poverty and the fight against social exclusion as Objectives of the Union
  • Putting in place practical mechanisms to enable the EU to eradicate poverty
  • An enforceable Charter of Fundamental Rights, linking economic and social rights with political, cultural and other rights
  • Greater transparency, accountability and involvement of civil society, particularly including the voices of people experiencing poverty, exclusion and inequalities and the NGOs in which they participate, in decision-making

In all of these areas, the draft Constitution represents an important but limited step forward. For this reason EAPN welcomes the commitment, in the objectives of the Constitutional Treaty, that (the EU) “shall combat social exclusion and discrimination and shall promote social justice, equality between men and women, solidarity between the generations and protection of the child.” (Article I-3-3).

Article III-117 means that, for the first time, social inclusion priorities should be taken into account, for example, in economic and monetary policy, competition policy and agricultural policy. In the previous Treaties, social inclusion was only an objective of social policy, not of the Union as such.

EAPN welcomes the incorporation into the Treaty of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, (Part II, reinforced by Article I-9). We also welcome the decision to ratify the European Convention of Human Rights. The inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Constitutional Treaty represents an important lever to promote a social European Union.

For many minority and excluded groups, poverty and discrimination are inextricably linked and this trend is growing, with the increase in discrimination aimed at racial or ethnic minorities including Roma, Gypsies and Travellers. We therefore welcome the inclusion of the horizontal article III – 118 which states: “In defining and implementing the policies and activities referred to in this part, the Union shall aim to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation”

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