Ahead of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October, I would like to reiterate the European Commission's commitment to tackling poverty and social exclusion across the European Union and beyond.
We have the good fortune to live in one of the world's most prosperous regions, yet poverty remains a daily reality for nearly 80 million Europeans. Our social protection systems have helped mitigate the worst social impacts of the current recession, but it is often the vulnerable who are hit hardest in situations of crisis: aside from job losses, many face difficulties meeting financial commitments, having decent housing and accessing credit.
In the short term, it is vital to prevent a vicious circle of long-term unemployment leading to social exclusion. At the same time, we must continue to make our social models sustainable in the long term so that future generations can benefit from them too. Solidarity is a fundamental value of the EU with all members of society sharing the benefits in times of prosperity and the burden in times of difficulty.
We need to work together at all levels to promote 'active inclusion' through integrated policies that combine and balance measures aimed at inclusive labour markets, access to quality services and adequate minimum income. This is the focus of our 8 th annual Roundtable on poverty and social exclusion, taking place in Stockholm today and tomorrow. The event, jointly organised with the Swedish EU Presidency, brings together national and European decision-makers, NGOs, trade unions and those experiencing poverty. It brings an opportunity to exchange solutions among the 27 member states and learn from one another's experiences in fighting poverty.
In three months from now, the EU will launch the 2010 European Year against poverty and social exclusion. This year-long campaign will better acknowledge the right of people living in poverty to play a full part in society and reinforce partnerships between actors working to fight poverty and social exclusion. The general goal is to generate new impetus in the struggle against poverty and social exclusion in order to build together a society for all.
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