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European targets against poverty

Returning to an issue in Oireachtas Brief 5, the Taoiseach reported on the summer European Council meeting on the outcome in setting targets for the reduction of poverty (Dail Eireann, Debates, 7th July 2010, 44-5).  The Council had signed off on the five headline targets under the Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.  In the area of social inclusion, the aim was to lift at least 20m people out of the risk of poverty and social exclusion.  The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin told Lucinda Creighton (FG, Dublin SE) that the focus had now shifted to the work to be undertaken to ensure that the strategy was successful and translate EU headline targets into national targets.  Member states, including Ireland, must now work to agree national targets and potential bottlenecks, but he mentioned that Ireland had already exceeded its target of 40% of 30-40 year olds having third level education and our school drop out rate of 11.3% was close to the target of 10%.  A series of bilateral dialogues with each member state had taken place to discuss this process, enabling member states to point to specific national situations affecting their target setting (Dail Eireann, Debates, 6th July 2010, 734-6).