Social workers are being urged to write to their local candidate MEP in the run up to the European Parliamentary elections in May asking them what they intend to do to support people suffering in the face of austerity measures.
The call comes from members of BASW's International Development working group which stressed that Members of the European Parliament have a duty to promote the well-being of Europe’s citizens, particularly the vulnerable.
The group said any representations should refer to a European Commission report, which dramatically highlights the effect government cutbacks are having on the most vulnerable in the continent. The report, Taking Stock of the Europe 2020 Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, published in March, shows the number of people living in poverty in the EU has risen over the last five years by 10 million to 124 million.
The report also highlights widening inequality, with the top 20% on average earning more than five times that of the bottom 20%. Unemployment has also increased, from 7.1% in 2008 to a peak of 10.9% in 2013.
Working group member Serge Paul said: “We are urging members to write to their MEPs and challenge them over the dismantling of the welfare state throughout Europe; the breach of the European compact; the isolation of the poor and lack of measures in place to tackle poverty and unemployment; the crisis in health and care services and the opening up of health and welfare to multi-national corporations.
“Social workers are at the front line of helping overcome disadvantage and promoting equality and we want to know what our future MEPs will do to ensure a decent future for all.”
BASW is the UK representative of the International Federation of Social Workers, the European Region of which is a member of the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN).
EAPN has launched a campaign for a ‘Social Europe’, calling on MEP election candidates to commit to make the fight against poverty, social exclusion and inequality a priority.