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EAPN Statement on COVID-19

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Call for action by European Anti-Poverty Network, 17 March 2020 – accessible here

Urgent, coordinated action needed by EU and Member States to adequately protect and support the poor, the sick and highly vulnerable groups! Read our statement and recommendations to the EPSCO here!

EAPN and its members are concerned by the spreading of the Corona virus (COVID-19) across Europe and in particular about its social and economic consequences on people at risk of poverty and social exclusion and their families, but also highly vulnerable groups. With this statement we call on all governments to coordinate their activities within their countries and across the EU to fight the further spreading of the virus in order to protect the health and life of our citizens. This should be done with high attention for the situation and additional needs of poor(er) people and their families, but also for more vulnerable groups in view of their economic, social and health situations, in a spirit of solidarity and working towards the common good.

EAPN Austria, at the 12th Austrian Poverty Conference, held in Salzburg from 9 to 11 March 2020, published a statement (you can read it in DE here) starting with a call to relevant government bodies to provide the necessary special protection and security for poor and vulnerable people and groups on the backdrop of the Corona virus and to devise decisive measures to support them and reduce related risks.

EAPN Portugal also issued a statement on Corona virus (you can read it in PT here).

EAPN Spain created a microsite (in Spanish) on the social impact of the Coronavirus crisis that includes:

  • a detailed analysis of the various social and economic consequences of the Corona virus, very well also highlighting the gender dimension. The statement includes recommendations to the Spanish government and the Autonomous Regions in Spain. It has been shared by social media and was picked up by El Diarioand Televisión Española.
  • a second analysis on the new, specific situations of vulnerability that came to their knowledge, and
  • a third document with the demands to the Spanish Government, after the announcement of their contingency plan.

EAPN Spain has set up a small survey directed to their local members with the aim of getting direct and fresh information from the field.

AGE Platform Europe on 16 March 2020 published a statement calling for life-saving measures based on broad interventions and paying attention to the risk of social isolation and loneliness, compiling good practices of AGE members on national level.

Eurodiaconia on 24 March 2020 published a paper providing information about the experience and observations of their member organisations who are at the forefront of the fight against the disease and a set of policy recommendations aimed at supporting social service providers at regional, national and European levels to ensure that people living at the margins of society are not left behind in these unusually challenging times.

FEBA on 17 March 2020 disclosed a statement calling on European Institutions and National Governments to:

  • support the initiatives of civil society organisations,
  • signal solidarity to European citizens, especially to the most deprived 
  • allow freedom of movement to volunteers aged 18-64 engaged with civil organisations

FEANTSA on 18 March published a statement calling on public authorities at local, regional, national and European levels to work with homeless service providers to ensure that resources and attention flow to measures to meet the special requirements of people experiencing homelessness in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social Platform on 27 March released their statement urging EU and national leaders to put at the heart of their activities a socio-economic system that tackles inequalities, includes all members of society and respects human rights.

This EAPN Statement also includes input kindly provided by FEANTSA and Eurodiaconia.

Points mentioned in the statement are underpinned by practical evidence the EAPN Secretariat got or could collect in the last two days. We only give some illustrations:

  1. Workers offering household services/domestic workers in Belgium and operating under a voucher system (titres services) cannot stop working and feel very exposed to the risk of infection. We have heard that some of them are denied the right to protect themselves. They could only stop working and be paid if their clients refuse to receive them in their household, but otherwise they will lose their income. On the other hand, should one of the workers in the sector of household services get infected, they also will be a serious threat to often frail and/or elderly persons.
  2. Another example are cleaning workers in companies: Those workers who are a (lone) parent of a school child are in put in a real dilemma, with schools being closed down and nobody looking for their younger children on the one hand and their obligation to go to work as otherwise they could lose their job. Parents staying at home in France, however, will get a replacement payment from the health insurance funds.
  3. Finally, as explained above, full cooperation and coordination between governments and social partners is needed to help addressing the economic and labour-market related consequences of the pandemic. In Romania, however, the government set up an emergency committee and only invited the employers’ association to be part of it, but not the trade unions – this clearly is a wrong start and approach for EAPN.