20 September 1993

Doc. 6923


Supplementary Reply to Recommendation 1196 (1992)

on severe poverty and social exclusion:

towards guaranteed minimum levels of resources

(adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 7 September 1993

at the 497th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

1.       The Committee of Ministers shares the concern of the Parliamentary Assembly that severe, persistent and widespread poverty excludes growing numbers of persons and families from the normal processes, relations and amenities of civilised society.

2.       It was indeed with this in mind that the Committee of Ministers adopted, on 10 February 1992, Recommendation No. R(92)4 on the co-ordination of employment, social and educational services for the integration and reintegration into employment of persons with difficulties. The Committee of Ministers has sought the opinion of the Steering Committee for Employment and Labour (CDEM), which drew up Recommendation No. R(92)4, on paragraph 15.iii of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1196 (1992) on severe poverty and social exclusion: towards guaranteed minimum levels of resources. The CDEM, in its opinion, recalls that Recommendation No. R(92)4 states, inter alia, that persons in difficulty, who include all those suffering from severe poverty, should benefit from a social and vocational reintegration policy which takes the following factors into account:

i.       their situation often results from a set of unfavourable factors such as health problems, poor education, family and psychological problems, homelessness etc;

ii.       these problems should be dealt with at local level, through an individualised, comprehensive approach based on consultation and co-ordination between the relevant public or private bodies as persons with difficulties are very often unable to contact such services;

iii.       a priority need of these people is often the learning of the most elementary social skills, via first-hand experience of the working world, before receiving vocational training;

iv.       social rehabilitation requires sustained effort in order to gradually develop a stable and rewarding social identity, a guarantee of social and vocational reintegration and key factor in preventing a relapse into poverty.

3.       The CDEM also notes that a particularly significant share of the responsibility in this area lies with socio-economic decision-makers, officials, voluntary organisations, financial institutions and also small- and medium-sized business enterprises who must be made aware of the problem, informed and urged by public authorities to join forces in helping victims of severe poverty. Paragraphs 7 to 9 of Recommendation No. R(92)4 cover these concepts in greater detail.

4.       The Committee of Ministers has also sought the opinion of the Steering Committee on Social Policy (CDPS) on paragraph 15.iii of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1196 (1992). In its opinion, the CDPS draws attention to the fact that it is submitting to the Committee of Ministers, on the instructions of the latter, an opinion concerning the implementation of Project III.5 on "Human dignity and social exclusion". The main thrust of this multidisciplinary project, which follows on from the conclusions of the Colloquy "Towards greater social justice in Europe: the challenge of marginalisation and poverty" (Strasbourg, 3-5 December 1991), will be the preparation of a pan-European report on poverty and social exclusion. The CDPS recommends that this report should have three main purposes, namely:

-       to review the main trends in poverty and social exclusion across Europe and to analyse the main processes involved in the context of the rapid economic, political and social changes taking place;

-       to describe and analyse the connection between poverty and social exclusion and the denial of basic rights and to establish a clear framework of social rights to counter poverty and social exclusion;

-       to establish concrete principles for successful action to combat poverty and social exclusion.

      A first step towards implementing the recommendations for carrying out the report should involve the organisation of a meeting of Chairpersons of the Council of Europe committees and bodies concerned. The CDPS also hopes that the Parliamentary Assembly will lend its support to the preparation of the report, and that it will participate in the Conference to be held in 1996 at which it is planned to present the report.