Europe must focus on providing increased mobility options for its marginalised citizens if it is to achieve its Lisbon targets of social inclusion, economic growth and job creation, transport stakeholders are urging.
- Mobility and social inclusion
In the framework of its 57th World Congress and Exhibition in Helsinki from 20-24 May 2007, the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) highlights the important role of public transport in tackling social exclusion.
According to the UITP, while European countries have been successful in ensuring that transport facilities and services become more accessible to all, more work is needed to extend the travel horizons of socially-excluded citizens if the EU is to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010, as promoted by the bloc’s Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs.
The organisation stresses that the EU should raise awareness of the potential of public transport in encouraging social inclusion by making it more visible in its guidelines to member states for the development of their National Action Plans.
With an increasingly ageing society (already 22% of the population is older than 60 and this share is expected to rise to 36% by 2050), the issue of improving accessibility can no longer be neglected, stresses the organisation.
- Focus on “deprived neighbourhoods”
The riots in French cities in 2005 highlighted the need to come up with new solutions to face the problems of marginalisation in urban areas.
The Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities, which EU ministers are due to adopt on 24 and 25 May, will devote considerable attention to the problems of high unemployment and social exclusion (EURACTIV 16/05/07), stressing the need for an integrated urban development policy, focusing on labour-market improvements, education and training for young people, the development of ‘high-quality public spaces’ and affordable and efficient urban transport.
The Charter will also suggest that member states be allowed to use the European structural funds to finance specifically urban programmes.