The global economic crisis under way since 2008 has weakened our societies and increased the number of vulnerable population groups threatened with poverty or extreme poverty.
There is an essential, urgent need to recognise the fundamental right of persons in situations of poverty and social exclusion to live in dignity and to be full members of society.
One of the objectives of the Council of Europe is to promote a more united, genuinely participatory society; it is therefore important to make citizens aware of the benefits, for all its members, of a society free from poverty which permits an equitable distribution of wealth, in which no one is marginalised and in which each citizen plays an active part in democratic and economic growth.
In view of the grave risks for millions of people – the 47 member states of the Council of Europe probably have far more than 30 million "extremely poor" citizens – it is necessary to reaffirm the political commitment of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers and to seek to identify "good practices" and forceful objectives so as to eliminate or hugely reduce poverty and social exclusion.
It is absolutely necessary, as a matter of vital urgency, to increase public participation in social inclusion policies, focusing on collective and individual responsibility for combating poverty and social exclusion and the need to promote and support voluntary action. The emphasis must above all be laid on dynamic partnership in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, whether vertical (between central and local government bodies) or horizontal (between public authorities and the private voluntary, non-profit sector).
The Assembly also calls on the Committee of Ministers to draw up a convention which could, in a very specific, tangible way, constitute a key turning point in the efforts to combat poverty and foster genuine social cohesion.