On the World Day of Social Justice, Caritas Europa calls on the EU and its Member States to acknowledge social justice as a fundamental principle in tackling family poverty and social exclusion.
Most recent statistics show that in 2012, 124.5 million people in the EU-28 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This is one-fourth of the entire population of the European Union. Although the European Commission and Member States of the European Union have committed themselves to take serious steps to reduce these figures the reality is that there are more and more people are experiencing poverty and social exclusion.
The Treaty on European Union clearly states that the European Union shall promote social justice. Caritas Europa – whose mission includes analysis of and fight against poverty and social exclusion, as well as the promotion of social justice and sustainable social systems in Europe – urges European policy and decision-makers to give a greater importance to true social justice in today's profoundly changed environment. Social justice concerns the social, political and economic aspects and, above all, the structural dimension of problems and their respective solutions (Para 201 of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church).
This is to say that European Institutions and Governments across Europe must develop policies and laws which respect the interdependence and interrelatedness of economic and social development in a sustainable way when working on eradication of poverty and social exclusion. True social justice requires strong commitment to both of these aspects because without economic growth there are no adequate resources for social development and without investing in social protection system, social inclusion and social services there is no long-term and stable economic development.
“The water and electricity have been cut off from my home because my parents cannot afford to pay the bills. I am very worried.” – says 9 year-old Mary in Malta. When it comes to economic and social development policy and decision-makers of the European Union and its Member States and even non-EU countries are encouraged to keep in mind that the dignity of each person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all policies of our societies.
Inspired by the valuable experience of its member organisations Caritas Europa calls on policy and decision-makers at local, regional, national and European levels to tackle child and family poverty and social exclusion as a matter of high priority and not to hesitate giving real practical effect to the fundamental principle of social justice. The coming EP elections shall also cover this topic since the results will be of crucial importance for the future of a social Europe.
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