Category Archives: Social Inclusion and the Fight against Poverty

Social inclusion and the fight against poverty are an integral part of the European Union’s growth and employment objectives. Coordination of the national social protection and inclusion policies is based on a process of mutual exchange and learning, better known as the “open method of coordination” (OMC). In addition to eliminating poverty and social exclusion, this process will hinge in the years to come on providing adequate and sustainable pensions and on developing accessible, high-quality and sustainable health care and long-term care.

Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Social inclusion and the fight against poverty are an integral part of the European Union’s growth and employment objectives. Coordination of the national social protection and inclusion policies is based on a process of mutual exchange and learning, better known as the “open method of coordination” (OMC). In addition to eliminating poverty and social exclusion, this process will hinge in the years to come on providing adequate and sustainable pensions and on developing accessible, high-quality and sustainable health care and long-term care.

TRANSVERSAL ACTIONS

  • European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion
  • Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion
  • Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS (2007-2013)
  • European Progress Microfinance Facility (EPMF)
  • Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market
  • Promoting decent work for all
  • Sufficient resources and assistance
  • Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion 2008
  • Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion: 2007
  • Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion 2006
  • Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion
  • Joint report on social inclusion
  • A new framework for the open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies
  • Community programme encouraging cooperation between Member States to combat social exclusion (2002-2006)
  • Building an inclusive Europe
  • URBAN II

SPECIFIC ACTIONS

  • Consumer access to basic payment accounts
  • National Roma Integration Strategies: Common European Framework
  • Social and economic integration of Roma
  • Participation of young people with fewer opportunities
  • European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (2010)
  • European Year of Education through Sport 2004
  • European Fund for Refugees (2000-2004)
  • Social inclusion of young people
  • Promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe

European Fund for Refugees

European Fund for Refugees

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Fund for Refugees

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

European Fund for Refugees (2000-2004)

The European Union established the European Refugee Fund to group in a single instrument the measures concerning integration and those concerning reception and voluntary repatriation in the event of a massive influx of refugees and displaced persons. The Fund, which was set up for a period of five years (2000-04), has been extended for the period 2005-2010.

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2000/596/EC of 28 September 2000 establishing a European Refugee Fund.

Summary

1. Pilot projects aimed at refugees and displaced persons have been financed by the Commission since 1997. This experience prompted the Union to set up a European Refugee Fund grouping in a single instrument the measures relating to integration, reception and voluntary repatriation which had been the subject of the Joint Action of 26 April 1999. By establishing a multiannual project, the Council is taking the Amsterdam Treaty as a basis for carrying out long-term measures in favour of refugees and displaced persons and for meeting the requests formulated by the Tampere European Council in October 1999 for the creation of an instrument suited to emergency situations.

Financial balance

2. The establishment of the European Refugee Fund is the first step towards a common asylum system. The Fund has run for five years (2000-2004). It introduced a system of financial redistribution to balance the burdens borne by the Member States. Inequalities between reception facilities for refugees and displaced persons should be remedied because they cause imbalances in financial and organisational burdens in the Union: displaced persons go to the country which appears most attractive to them and they sometimes go from one Member State to another in that quest, thereby increasing the burden of the Member States. This Community financial support is also an incentive to improve reception conditions and to introduce fair and effective asylum procedures in States where that is necessary. Moreover, the aim of Community aid is to make it easier to adjust the facilities of countries that experience large alterations in the volume or nature of movements of refugees.

Measures supported by the Fund

3. Measures financed by the Fund are for persons with the status of refugee or persons benefiting from another form of international protection and displaced persons benefiting from temporary protection and, depending on the nature of the measures, persons applying for such status or protection.

4. The European Fund will support the Member States in the following respects:

  • improvement of reception conditions and procedures in terms of infrastructure and services (accommodation, material assistance, medical care, social assistance, assistance with administrative and judicial formalities)
  • integration of persons benefiting from a stable form of international protection (aid for immediate needs, sociocultural adjustment). These persons must be made as independent as possible.
  • voluntary repatriation and reintegration in the country of origin. Community assistance will give access to reliable information, necessary advice, training and assistance for reintegration.

5. The reference amount for financing the Fund has been set at 216 million for the five years of operation. 5% of the Fund’s annual budget can be used to finance innovative or transnational Community measures (studies, pilot projects, exchanges of experience, assessment of measures implemented, etc.).

6. The Council, initially acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and subsequently in accordance with the provision laid down by the directive on temporary protection can decide to allocate part of the Fund to emergency measures in the event of a massive influx of refugees or displaced persons (accommodation, food, clothing, healthcare, administrative and organisational costs).

The implementation of measures

7. The Member States are mainly responsible for the implementation of the measures covered by the Fund and they coordinate measures at national level. Each Member State submits a cofinancing application each year. The Commission examines the applications and takes the cofinancing decisions. The Member States manage and select the individual projects in accordance with pre-established criteria (requirements, cost/effectiveness ratio, profile of the applicant organisation, complementarity with other measures).

8. Since the implementation of long-term measures is decentralised, the Member States must provide guarantees with regard to the methods employed and quality of the work, results accompanied by assessments, sound financial management and how measures are monitored as well as the prevention and rectification of irregularities. The Commission ensures that national management and control systems operate effectively. It can also carry out on-the-spot checks and in some cases reduce payments to the Member State or make financial corrections (reduced payments, total or partial withdrawal of participation of the Fund in the measure in question).

Emergency measures in the event of a massive influx of persons

9. With regard to emergency measures in the event of a massive influx of persons, the Commission will divide resources available, on the basis of the number of persons who entered the State, between each Member State concerned on the basis of proposals by those Member States. With regard to the financing of other measures, a minimum amount is allocated to each Member State each year (this amount will be reduced gradually from EUR 500 000 in 2000 to EUR 100 000 in 2004). The remainder of the resources is divided between the Member States on the basis of statistics compiled by the European Communities Statistical Office for the previous three years. The number of applications for protection will be given a 65% weighting, against 35% for the number of refugees accepted and displaced persons receiving temporary protection. Community support for the financing of projects will not exceed 50% of the total cost of each project (75% for the Member States drawn from the Cohesion Fund). There are different procedures for emergency measures: financial support can cover 80% of the cost of each measure for a maximum of six months. The available resources are then divided between the Member States on the basis of then number of displaced persons they receive.

Monitoring and organisational measures

10. With regard to monitoring and assessment of the projects, each Member State will each year present the financial accounts and an activity report to the Commission on the basis of detailed summary reports drawn up by the authorities responsible for implementing the measures. In addition, it will carry out an independent assessment of the implementation and impact of the measures. The Commission will present two summary reports on the projects undertaken to the Parliament and the Council, an interim report no later than 31 December 2002 and a final report before 1 June 2005.

11. The Commission will be assisted by an advisory committee consisting of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a Commission representative.

12. With regard to 2000 and 2001 transitional measures are to be applied to the establishment of the amounts to be allocated to the Member States, the procedure for approving cofinancing requests and the criteria of eligibility for support from the Fund.

European Refugee Fund II

13. On 12 February 2004 the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Decision establishing the European Refugee Fund (ERF) for the period 2005-2010 (see under Related Acts). The new proposal is intended to express solidarity between the European Community and the Member States concerning the reception of asylum-seekers and the management of asylum procedures, the integration of persons benefiting from international protection and measures promoting the voluntary repatriation of protected persons or persons whose applications for asylum have been refused.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2000/596/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2004/0032] 28.09.2000 OJ L 252 of 06.10.2000

Related Acts

Council Decision of 2 December 2004 establishing the European Refugee Fund for the period 2005 to 2010 [Official Journal L 381 of 28.12.2004]
This Decision establishes the European Refugee Fund for the period from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2010. The purpose of the Fund is to support the efforts of the Member States to receive refugees and displaced persons by co-financing reception conditions and asylum procedures, the integration of persons whose stay in the Member State is of a lasting and stable nature and the voluntary return of persons provided they have not acquired a new nationality and have not left the territory of the Member State. Actions in the Member States will be implemented on the basis of two multiannual programme phases (2005 to 2007 and 2008 to 2010). The amount for the period from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2006 is EUR 114 million.

Commission Decision 2002/307/EC of 18 December 2001 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Decision 2000/596/EC as regards management and control systems and procedures for making financial corrections in the context of actions co-financed by the European Refugee Fund [Official Journal L 106 of 23.4.2002].

Commission Decision 2001/275/EC of 20 March 2001 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Decision 2000/596/EC as regards the eligibility of expenditure and reports on implementation in the context of actions co-financed by the European Refugee Fund [Official Journal L 95 of 5.4.2001].

Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof [Official Journal L 212 of 7.8.2001].

Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof [Official Journal L 212 of 07.08.2001].

European Year of Education through Sport 2004

European Year of Education through Sport 2004

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Year of Education through Sport 2004

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Education training youth sport > Sport

European Year of Education through Sport 2004

The objective of the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 was to encourage partnerships between the worlds of education and sport in order to promote the educational and social values of sporting activity.

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 291/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 February 2003 establishing the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 [See amending acts].

Summary

Sport has become a major economic and social phenomenon in the European Union. The European Community has, on several occasions, recognised the important social and educational role of sport. A declaration annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam emphasises the role of sport in forging identity and bringing people together. The Nice European Council, in December 2000, drew attention to sport’s “social function in Europe, of which account should be taken in implementing common policies”. The European Year of Education through Sport accordingly focused on these educational and social functions.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004, as well as the Euro 2004 football tournament in Portugal, boosted media coverage of sport, heightened public awareness and provided an opportunity to promote its values.

Objectives

The objectives of the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 were as follows:

  • to make institutions and sports organisations aware of the need for cooperation in order to develop education through sport and its European dimension;
  • to take advantage of the values conveyed through sport to develop knowledge and basic skills allowing young poeple to improve their physical and social abilities, mainly through the school curriculum (teamwork, solidarity, tolerance and fair play in a multicultural framework);
  • to promote awareness of the positive contribution that voluntary activities make to non-formal education for young people;
  • to encourage the exchange of good practice concerning the role sport can play in education systems to promote the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups;
  • to consider the problems relating to the education of young sportsmen and sportswomen involved in competitive sports.

Actions

The activities and initiatives undertaken during the Year were run at Community, transnational, national, regional and local level, and were co-financed by the Community. The activities that were supported as part of the European Year of Education through Sport comprised the following:

  • meetings, European educational competitions and events highlighting achievements and experiences on the theme of sport;
  • voluntary actions at European level during Olympic and other sporting events in 2004;
  • information and promotional campaigns, including cooperation with the media to disseminate the educational values of sport;
  • events promoting the educational value of sport and showcasing examples of good practice;
  • financial support for transnational, national, regional or local initiatives to promote the objectives of the Year.

The Community contributions were allocated on the basis of the type of action:

  • measures that were Community-wide in nature were subsidised from the general budget of the European Union up to a maximum of 80% of the total cost;
  • measures of Community interest which were local, regional, national or transnational in nature were co-financed from the general budget of the European Union up to a maximum of 50% of the total cost.

Other forms of action were given moral support (authorisation to use the logo and other materials associated with the Year).

Implementation

The Member States designated bodies having responsibility for coordination and local implementation of the measures taken.

The Commission assumed responsibility for the overall implementation and coordination of the Year’s activities, including the selection of projects co-financed from the EU budget, in compliance with the principle of subsidiarity. It was assisted by a Committee. In the course of the project selection procedure, the Commission took into account the opinion of the bodies designated by the Member States for implementing the projects, and ensured a balanced distribution among the Member States. Moreover, the Commission ensured that the measures taken were consistent with and complementary to other relevant Community actions and initiatives as well as existing national and regional initiatives, where these contributed to meeting the objectives of the Year.

Financial provisions

A budget of EUR 12.1 million was allocated at European level for the preparatory period (2003) and the Year itself. The budget was complemented by other initiatives by the Commission and Member States and by actions financed by other parties.

Participation by certain third countries

The European Year was open to participation by the 25 Member States, the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA), in accordance with the conditions laid down in the EEA Agreement. Bulgaria and Romania were also able to participate in accordance with the conditions laid down in their respective European Agreements and Turkey by means of additional appropriations.

Assessment

By 31 December 2005 at the latest, the Commission must submit a report on the implementation, results and overall assessment of the European Year.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision No 291/2003/EC [adoption: codecision COD/2001/0244] 19.02.2003 OJ L 43 of 18.02.2003.
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision No 786/2004/EC 30.04.2004 OJ L38 of 30.04.2004.
Regulation (EC) No 885/2004 01.05.2004 OJ L68 of 01.05.2004.

 


Another Normative about European Year of Education through Sport 2004

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

European Year of Education through Sport 2004

The objective of the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 was to encourage partnerships between the worlds of education and sport in order to promote the educational and social values of sporting activity.

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 291/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 February 2003 establishing the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 [See amending acts].

Summary

Sport has become a major economic and social phenomenon in the European Union. The European Community has, on several occasions, recognised the important social and educational role of sport. A declaration annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam emphasises the role of sport in forging identity and bringing people together. The Nice European Council, in December 2000, drew attention to sport’s “social function in Europe, of which account should be taken in implementing common policies”. The European Year of Education through Sport accordingly focused on these educational and social functions.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004, as well as the Euro 2004 football tournament in Portugal, boosted media coverage of sport, heightened public awareness and provided an opportunity to promote its values.

Objectives

The objectives of the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 were as follows:

  • to make institutions and sports organisations aware of the need for cooperation in order to develop education through sport and its European dimension;
  • to take advantage of the values conveyed through sport to develop knowledge and basic skills allowing young poeple to improve their physical and social abilities, mainly through the school curriculum (teamwork, solidarity, tolerance and fair play in a multicultural framework);
  • to promote awareness of the positive contribution that voluntary activities make to non-formal education for young people;
  • to encourage the exchange of good practice concerning the role sport can play in education systems to promote the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups;
  • to consider the problems relating to the education of young sportsmen and sportswomen involved in competitive sports.

Actions

The activities and initiatives undertaken during the Year were run at Community, transnational, national, regional and local level, and were co-financed by the Community. The activities that were supported as part of the European Year of Education through Sport comprised the following:

  • meetings, European educational competitions and events highlighting achievements and experiences on the theme of sport;
  • voluntary actions at European level during Olympic and other sporting events in 2004;
  • information and promotional campaigns, including cooperation with the media to disseminate the educational values of sport;
  • events promoting the educational value of sport and showcasing examples of good practice;
  • financial support for transnational, national, regional or local initiatives to promote the objectives of the Year.

The Community contributions were allocated on the basis of the type of action:

  • measures that were Community-wide in nature were subsidised from the general budget of the European Union up to a maximum of 80% of the total cost;
  • measures of Community interest which were local, regional, national or transnational in nature were co-financed from the general budget of the European Union up to a maximum of 50% of the total cost.

Other forms of action were given moral support (authorisation to use the logo and other materials associated with the Year).

Implementation

The Member States designated bodies having responsibility for coordination and local implementation of the measures taken.

The Commission assumed responsibility for the overall implementation and coordination of the Year’s activities, including the selection of projects co-financed from the EU budget, in compliance with the principle of subsidiarity. It was assisted by a Committee. In the course of the project selection procedure, the Commission took into account the opinion of the bodies designated by the Member States for implementing the projects, and ensured a balanced distribution among the Member States. Moreover, the Commission ensured that the measures taken were consistent with and complementary to other relevant Community actions and initiatives as well as existing national and regional initiatives, where these contributed to meeting the objectives of the Year.

Financial provisions

A budget of EUR 12.1 million was allocated at European level for the preparatory period (2003) and the Year itself. The budget was complemented by other initiatives by the Commission and Member States and by actions financed by other parties.

Participation by certain third countries

The European Year was open to participation by the 25 Member States, the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA), in accordance with the conditions laid down in the EEA Agreement. Bulgaria and Romania were also able to participate in accordance with the conditions laid down in their respective European Agreements and Turkey by means of additional appropriations.

Assessment

By 31 December 2005 at the latest, the Commission must submit a report on the implementation, results and overall assessment of the European Year.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision No 291/2003/EC [adoption: codecision COD/2001/0244] 19.02.2003 OJ L 43 of 18.02.2003.
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision No 786/2004/EC 30.04.2004 OJ L38 of 30.04.2004.
Regulation (EC) No 885/2004 01.05.2004 OJ L68 of 01.05.2004.

 

A new framework for the open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies

A new framework for the open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A new framework for the open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social protection

A new framework for the open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies

The aim of this communication is to put in place an enhanced open method of coordination (OMC) for policies geared to providing social protection and combating poverty. This strengthened OMC will be more visible and will focus more on policy implementation, tying in more closely with the revised Lisbon Strategy. It will simplify the reporting process and will increase the opportunities for exchanging ideas between the Member States on the policy to be conducted.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 22 December 2005 “A new framework for the open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies” [COM(2005) 706 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

EVALUATION OF WORK DONE UNDER THE OMC

Before making its proposals, the Commission asked the Member States, the social partners, NGOs and social protection institutions to complete a questionnaire on the OMC and its working methods.

The parties concerned believe that the OMC is worthwhile and that it has a positive impact on policy making. They are in favour of a more streamlined process in tandem with simplified reporting.

Streamlining should:

  • bring together the three strands of work, while allowing the specific features which are important to each of them to develop further. New integrated common objectives should not reduce the scope for in-depth focus on each area of operation;
  • support more learning and integrate it more effectively with the work of reporting and evaluation;
  • foster good interaction with the revised Lisbon Strategy and the re-launched Sustainable Development Strategy;
  • promote the practice of involving stakeholders who have made the most headway in the relevant field.

NEW COMMON OBJECTIVES FOR THE STRENGTHENED OMC

These new objectives are based on the existing objectives set out in Nice as regards inclusion and in Laeken as regards pensions.

General objectives

  • Promote social cohesion and equal opportunities for all through adequate, accessible, financially sustainable, adaptable and efficient social protection systems and social inclusion policies;
  • Interact closely with the Lisbon objectives for achieving greater economic growth and more and better jobs, as well as with the Union’s Sustainable Development Strategy;
  • Improve governance, transparency and the involvement of stakeholders in the design, implementation and monitoring of policy.

Objectives applying to the different fields of operation

  • Making a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty and social exclusion

– Ensure the active inclusion of all by promoting participation in the labour market and by fighting poverty and exclusion among the most marginalised groups;
– Combat all forms of discrimination which lead to exclusion;
– Incorporate the fight against poverty and social exclusion into all relevant public policies, including economic and budgetary policies, and the Structural Fund programmes (especially the ESF).

  • Providing adequate and sustainable pensions

– Guarantee an adequate retirement income for all and access to pensions which allow people to maintain, to a reasonable degree, their living standard after retirement;
– Ensure the financial sustainability of public and private pension schemes, particularly by supporting a longer working life and active ageing, guaranteeing an appropriate and fair balance between contributions and benefits, and maintaining the security of funded and private schemes;
– Ensure that pension schemes are transparent and that people receive the information they need to prepare for retirement.

  • Ensuring accessible, high-quality and sustainable health care and long-term care

– Guarantee access for all to adequate health and long-term care, and ensure that the need for care does not lead to poverty and financial dependency;
– Promote quality of care and rational use of resources.

PROCEDURES AND WORKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR A STRENGTHENED OMC

Evaluation and reporting

The new common objectives will provide a basis for drawing up national social protection and inclusion strategies, entailing:

  • a common section assessing the social situation and presenting the overall strategic approach for modernising social protection and social inclusion policies;
  • three thematic plans covering social inclusion, pensions and health care. These plans should be forward-looking, with prioritised national objectives translating the common objectives into national plans.

The Commission will draw up a joint report (for adoption by itself and by the Council) on social protection and social inclusion, which will take stock of the progress made by the Member States and review the main trends.

Timetable for reporting and evaluation

The national strategies would normally cover a forward-looking period of three years. As regards the new Lisbon timetable, the first reports ought to be submitted in September 2006. The Member States will not be required to present national strategies in the intermediate (“light”) years. They may, if they wish, report on any new initiatives or on progress with their actions.

Supporting more mutual learning

Exchanges of practice and mutual learning should be given more prominence and be better integrated with reporting and evaluation. The planned PROGRESS budget line will provide assistance for conducting such exchanges across the whole OMC spectrum.

Stakeholder involvement and governance

The strengthened OMC should redouble the focus on promoting good governance, transparency and stakeholder involvement:

  • For inclusion: promoting participation in decision-making, ensuring policy coordination between branches and levels of government;
  • For pensions: making pension systems understandable and giving people the information they need to prepare for retirement;
  • For health: establishing good coordination between the different elements of the system and giving good information to citizens.

Enhancing visibility

Improving the visibility of the OMC would contribute positively to the policy debates in the Member States. The planned lighter rhythm of reporting and evaluation may provide an opportunity to place greater emphasis on publicising the OMC through national seminars open to all.

Background

In so far as social protection and social inclusion policies are not incorporated into Community law, the mechanism introduced by the Lisbon European Council in March 2000 within the Union is called the open method of coordination (OMC). It allows the definition of common objectives and the comparison of good practices between Member States in three areas: social inclusion (since 2000), pension and retirement systems (since 2001) and the future of the health and long-term care sector (since 2004). Specifically, the OMC involves the setting of common general objectives, the drawing-up of national action plans and reports outlining the policies the Member States intend to conduct for achieving the common objectives, and the assessment of these plans and strategies in other joint reports by the Commission and the Council.

With a view to achieving more effective social policy coordination and better alignment with the Lisbon Strategy (particularly with the broad economic policy guidelines and the European employment strategy), a decision was taken in 2003 to streamline the OMC (see Commission Communication of May 2003 on the streamlining of coordination in the field of social protection).

Continuing with the streamlining effort, the present Communication proposes a new set of common objectives for the three strands of the OMC along with the application of new procedures from 2006 onwards. The strengthened OMC should operate in parallel and in close interaction with the revised Lisbon Strategy, contributing to the growth and employment objectives at the same time as the Lisbon-related programmes contribute to the social cohesion objectives.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission, of 20 April 2004, modernising social protection for the development of high-quality, accessible and sustainable health care and long-term care: support for the national strategies using the “open method of coordination” [COM(2004) 304 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission, of 27 May 2003, strengthening the social dimension of the Lisbon Strategy: streamlining open coordination in the field of social protection [COM(2003) 261 final – Official Journal L 314 of 13.10.2004].

Communication from the Commission, supporting national strategies for safe and sustainable pensions through an integrated approach [COM(2001) 362 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Another Normative about A new framework for the open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

A new framework for the open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies

The aim of this communication is to put in place an enhanced open method of coordination (OMC) for policies geared to providing social protection and combating poverty. This strengthened OMC will be more visible and will focus more on policy implementation, tying in more closely with the revised Lisbon Strategy. It will simplify the reporting process and will increase the opportunities for exchanging ideas between the Member States on the policy to be conducted.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 22 December 2005 “A new framework for the open coordination of social protection and inclusion policies” [COM(2005) 706 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

EVALUATION OF WORK DONE UNDER THE OMC

Before making its proposals, the Commission asked the Member States, the social partners, NGOs and social protection institutions to complete a questionnaire on the OMC and its working methods.

The parties concerned believe that the OMC is worthwhile and that it has a positive impact on policy making. They are in favour of a more streamlined process in tandem with simplified reporting.

Streamlining should:

  • bring together the three strands of work, while allowing the specific features which are important to each of them to develop further. New integrated common objectives should not reduce the scope for in-depth focus on each area of operation;
  • support more learning and integrate it more effectively with the work of reporting and evaluation;
  • foster good interaction with the revised Lisbon Strategy and the re-launched Sustainable Development Strategy;
  • promote the practice of involving stakeholders who have made the most headway in the relevant field.

NEW COMMON OBJECTIVES FOR THE STRENGTHENED OMC

These new objectives are based on the existing objectives set out in Nice as regards inclusion and in Laeken as regards pensions.

General objectives

  • Promote social cohesion and equal opportunities for all through adequate, accessible, financially sustainable, adaptable and efficient social protection systems and social inclusion policies;
  • Interact closely with the Lisbon objectives for achieving greater economic growth and more and better jobs, as well as with the Union’s Sustainable Development Strategy;
  • Improve governance, transparency and the involvement of stakeholders in the design, implementation and monitoring of policy.

Objectives applying to the different fields of operation

  • Making a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty and social exclusion

– Ensure the active inclusion of all by promoting participation in the labour market and by fighting poverty and exclusion among the most marginalised groups;
– Combat all forms of discrimination which lead to exclusion;
– Incorporate the fight against poverty and social exclusion into all relevant public policies, including economic and budgetary policies, and the Structural Fund programmes (especially the ESF).

  • Providing adequate and sustainable pensions

– Guarantee an adequate retirement income for all and access to pensions which allow people to maintain, to a reasonable degree, their living standard after retirement;
– Ensure the financial sustainability of public and private pension schemes, particularly by supporting a longer working life and active ageing, guaranteeing an appropriate and fair balance between contributions and benefits, and maintaining the security of funded and private schemes;
– Ensure that pension schemes are transparent and that people receive the information they need to prepare for retirement.

  • Ensuring accessible, high-quality and sustainable health care and long-term care

– Guarantee access for all to adequate health and long-term care, and ensure that the need for care does not lead to poverty and financial dependency;
– Promote quality of care and rational use of resources.

PROCEDURES AND WORKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR A STRENGTHENED OMC

Evaluation and reporting

The new common objectives will provide a basis for drawing up national social protection and inclusion strategies, entailing:

  • a common section assessing the social situation and presenting the overall strategic approach for modernising social protection and social inclusion policies;
  • three thematic plans covering social inclusion, pensions and health care. These plans should be forward-looking, with prioritised national objectives translating the common objectives into national plans.

The Commission will draw up a joint report (for adoption by itself and by the Council) on social protection and social inclusion, which will take stock of the progress made by the Member States and review the main trends.

Timetable for reporting and evaluation

The national strategies would normally cover a forward-looking period of three years. As regards the new Lisbon timetable, the first reports ought to be submitted in September 2006. The Member States will not be required to present national strategies in the intermediate (“light”) years. They may, if they wish, report on any new initiatives or on progress with their actions.

Supporting more mutual learning

Exchanges of practice and mutual learning should be given more prominence and be better integrated with reporting and evaluation. The planned PROGRESS budget line will provide assistance for conducting such exchanges across the whole OMC spectrum.

Stakeholder involvement and governance

The strengthened OMC should redouble the focus on promoting good governance, transparency and stakeholder involvement:

  • For inclusion: promoting participation in decision-making, ensuring policy coordination between branches and levels of government;
  • For pensions: making pension systems understandable and giving people the information they need to prepare for retirement;
  • For health: establishing good coordination between the different elements of the system and giving good information to citizens.

Enhancing visibility

Improving the visibility of the OMC would contribute positively to the policy debates in the Member States. The planned lighter rhythm of reporting and evaluation may provide an opportunity to place greater emphasis on publicising the OMC through national seminars open to all.

Background

In so far as social protection and social inclusion policies are not incorporated into Community law, the mechanism introduced by the Lisbon European Council in March 2000 within the Union is called the open method of coordination (OMC). It allows the definition of common objectives and the comparison of good practices between Member States in three areas: social inclusion (since 2000), pension and retirement systems (since 2001) and the future of the health and long-term care sector (since 2004). Specifically, the OMC involves the setting of common general objectives, the drawing-up of national action plans and reports outlining the policies the Member States intend to conduct for achieving the common objectives, and the assessment of these plans and strategies in other joint reports by the Commission and the Council.

With a view to achieving more effective social policy coordination and better alignment with the Lisbon Strategy (particularly with the broad economic policy guidelines and the European employment strategy), a decision was taken in 2003 to streamline the OMC (see Commission Communication of May 2003 on the streamlining of coordination in the field of social protection).

Continuing with the streamlining effort, the present Communication proposes a new set of common objectives for the three strands of the OMC along with the application of new procedures from 2006 onwards. The strengthened OMC should operate in parallel and in close interaction with the revised Lisbon Strategy, contributing to the growth and employment objectives at the same time as the Lisbon-related programmes contribute to the social cohesion objectives.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission, of 20 April 2004, modernising social protection for the development of high-quality, accessible and sustainable health care and long-term care: support for the national strategies using the “open method of coordination” [COM(2004) 304 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission, of 27 May 2003, strengthening the social dimension of the Lisbon Strategy: streamlining open coordination in the field of social protection [COM(2003) 261 final – Official Journal L 314 of 13.10.2004].

Communication from the Commission, supporting national strategies for safe and sustainable pensions through an integrated approach [COM(2001) 362 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Sufficient resources and assistance

Sufficient resources and assistance

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Sufficient resources and assistance

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Sufficient resources and assistance

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 92/441/EEC of 24 June 1992 on common criteria concerning sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems [Published in the Official Journal L 245 of 26.8.1992].

Summary

The Member States of the European Union (EU) must recognise the basic right of persons to sufficient resources and social assistance to live in a manner compatible with human dignity.

This right should be implemented under the framework of the Member States’ strategic national policies on combating social exclusion. It concerns all individuals resident in the territory of the EU who do not have access to sufficient resources individually or within the household in which they live.

The level of sufficient resources should be set according to the specific situation of each person, specifically the size of their household, their specific needs and the cost of living in the Member State concerned.

Access by applicants to this right cannot be subject to time-limits, provided that the eligibility conditions continue to be met. However, Member States may create limits concerning students, persons in full-time employment and persons with the capacity to carry out a vocational activity.

Implementation of this right must be ensured within the frameworks of social security schemes. In addition, Member States must in particular:

  • simplify administrative procedures and legal appeals;
  • provide measures of social support;
  • inform the most vulnerable people of their rights;
  • take measures to encourage employment;
  • adapt taxation, social security rules and the civil obligations of persons.

Related Acts

Report of 25 January 1999 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation of the recommendation 92/441/EEC of 24 June 1992 on common criteria concerning sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems [COM(98) 774 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In order to continue to improve the situation of minimum income beneficiaries, the Commission proposes to:

  • optimise social protection for better coverage of basic needs;
  • greater consistency between the minimum social benefits and social benefits, in particular the maintenance of minimum income by topping up income from work;
  • improve access to employment and training;
  • improve the social and economic integration of the beneficiaries of minimum income.

Community programme encouraging cooperation between Member States to combat social exclusion

Community programme encouraging cooperation between Member States to combat social exclusion

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community programme encouraging cooperation between Member States to combat social exclusion

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Community programme encouraging cooperation between Member States to combat social exclusion (2002-2006)

The European Union wishes to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty and social exclusion. It has undertaken to reduce significantly, by 2010, the number of people exposed to the risk of poverty. To achieve this objective, the Lisbon European Council in March 2000 adopted an open method of coordination, which sets appropriate objectives at Community level and at the same time implements national action plans suited to the various Member States’ circumstances. Under this method, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a programme of Community action for the period 2002-2006 to help the Union and the Member States enhance the effectiveness of their policies in this area. This programme is open to the countries of the EFTA/EEA (European Free Trade Association/European Economic Area), the associated countries of central and eastern Europe, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey.

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 50/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 December 2001 establishing a programme of Community action to encourage cooperation between Member States to combat social exclusion (2002-2006) [See amending acts].

Summary

1. This Decision establishes a programme of Community action for the period 2002-2006 which encourages cooperation between Member States in the area of social exclusion.

Objectives and methods

2. In the context of the open method of coordination, this programme supports cooperation which enables the Union and the Member States to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of policies to combat social exclusion.

3. The aims of this cooperation are to improve understanding of social exclusion and poverty, organise exchanges on policies which are implemented and to increase the capacity of actors to address these issues effectively and with innovative approaches.

Community actions

4. With a view to achieving these objectives, certain Community actions may be implemented within a transnational framework. Examples include the analysis and exchange of indicators relating to social exclusion and poverty and the promotion of dialogue between the various actors.

5. The Commission ensures the implementation of the Community actions covered by the programme. It also holds a regular exchange of views and information with non-governmental organisations and the social partners, and promotes active dialogue between all participants in the programme. It is also the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, which takes the necessary measures to ensure that Community actions are successful and that a follow-up is carried out.

6. The programme has a budget of EUR 85.04 million, including technical and administrative expenditure.

7. For measures taken to implement this Decision, the Commission is assisted by a Committee. This Committee cooperates, where necessary, with other committees concerned, such as the Social Protection Committee.

Consistency and complementarity

8. Together with the Member States, the Commission ensures the consistency and complementarity of this programme with other Community, national, regional and local policies. Actions taken in order to combat social exclusion must complement those implemented in the field of employment and the EU’s Structural Fund actions, in particular the EQUAL initiative.

9. Following enlargement, the programme to combat social exclusion is open to the 25 EU Member States, the countries of the EFTA/EEA (European Free Trade Association /European Economic Area), the associated countries of central and eastern Europe (Bulgaria and Romania) and Turkey.

10. In its annual summary report to the European Council, the Commission reports on the overall consistency of policies with social cohesion. The programme is evaluated by the Commission by the end of the third year and at the end of the programme, with the assistance of independent experts. It submits a final report on the implementation of the programme, by 31 December 2006, to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

Background

11. In its Recommendations 92/441/EEC and 92/442/EEC, the Council suggested that Member States recognise and guarantee the basic right of a person to sufficient resources and social assistance to live in a manner compatible with human dignity.
In its Communication of 1 March 2000, ” Building an Inclusive Europe “, the Commission proposed giving new impetus to European Union cooperation in the fight against social exclusion and poverty. The Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000 (c10241) incorporated social promotion in the EU’s overall strategy for the next ten years and agreed that policies in this area would be based on an open method of coordination.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 50/2002/EC [adoption: codecision COD/2000/0157] 15.01.2002 OJ L 10 of 12.01.2002
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 786/2004/EC [adoption: codecision COD/2003/0304] 30.04.2004 OJ L 138 of 30.04.2004

Related Acts

Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) [Official Journal L 165 of 03.07.2003].

The aim of this Regulation is to establish a common framework for the systematic production of Community statistics on income and living conditions in order to obtain precise, comparable data for all Member States. One of the fundamental objectives of this Regulation is thus to provide the required data on income and on the level and composition of poverty and exclusion at national and European levels. These data will allow the European Union in particular to combat poverty and social exclusion more effectively.

 

Building an inclusive Europe

Building an inclusive Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Building an inclusive Europe

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Building an inclusive Europe

Following the informal meeting of EU Social Affairs Ministers held on 11 and 12 February 2000 in Lisbon and after a wide consultation of the Member States and civil society, it would appear that combating social exclusion has become one of the major challenges faced by our economies and societies. Many Europeans are still living in poverty and have difficulties in taking part in social life. In order to foster inclusion and limit the emergence of new forms of exclusion, the Commission proposes to speed up the building of a Europe for all, based on knowledge and information.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 1 March 2000, Building an inclusive Europe [COM(2000) 79 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

1. As a follow-up to the Luxembourg Summit (November 1997), which launched the European Employment Strategy, the Commission proposes to launch a new initiative aimed at supporting the efforts of Member States to combat social exclusion. This initiative emphasises in particular the need to consider the effects of job creation on social cohesion.

The challenge of social exclusion

2. According to Eurostat data (1994), some 18% of the EU population live with less than 60% of the national median income. Persons living under this poverty line are experiencing deprivation and serious difficulties in fully participating in society.

3. Vulnerable persons are not only those experiencing long-term poverty but also those who have to face precariousness on the labour market and low incomes. The fact of holding a job at a particular time does not necessarily protect people from the risk of social exclusion.

4. Social exclusion is a multidimensional phenomenon in which unemployment is the major factor. There are long-term unemployed, those for whom recurrent periods of inactivity are mixed with periods of low-paid work and, lastly, “discouraged” workers, who do not seek work because they see no prospect of getting a job.

5. However, social exclusion goes beyond issues of access to the labour market and is evidenced by several types of discrimination. Alone or together, these barriers prevent full participation of persons in areas such as education, health, environment, housing, culture, access to rights or family support, as well as training and job opportunities. The effect of these factors varies, of course, between individuals and from one Member State to another.

6. The structural trends that are reshaping our societies will lead to economic growth but may also increase the risk of social exclusion.

7. With the globalisation of economies and high-speed technological changes, the labour market is changing drastically and is offering new opportunities to those who are the most adaptable. Those who are unprepared to acquire the skills required for new tasks within the knowledge economy are thus being marginalised.

8. Today’s knowledge is more and more transmitted through the information technologies, which are the key driving force for job creation. The lack of IT culture or access to skills may create new forms of social exclusion. The challenge of social exclusion must therefore consist in fostering active participation in order to achieve a fair distribution of opportunities and prepare citizens for change.

Policy developments in the Member States

9. Combating social exclusion is first and foremost the responsibility of Member States. However, social partners and non-governmental organisations also play a major role. During the last decade, there has been an increasing focus on the need to guarantee social integration. Ireland and Portugal, for example, have adopted national programmes:

  • Ireland has introduced “Sharing in progress: the national anti-poverty strategy”, the aim of which is to reduce the proportion of the Irish population which lives in long-term poverty. It is supported in particular by a strong partnership approach and specific institutional structures.
  • Portugal has developed the “Programma Nacional de luta contra a pobreza” (national anti-poverty programme), complemented by the INTEGRAR programme and the establishment of a minimum income scheme in 1997.
  • Other Member States, such as France, are seeking to improve the overall impact of social inclusion measures through framework legislation, which defines exclusion in terms of access to fundamental rights in the areas of employment, education, housing, health care, etc.

10. The efforts made have shown that employment contributes to solving the problem of exclusion, but provides only a partial solution. The Member States must promote the sustainable inclusion of people to a greater extent, emphasising the importance of an integrated approach.

Contribution of Community instruments and policies to social inclusion

11. The European Employment Strategy has made a major contribution to combating social exclusion by targeting long-term unemployment and youth unemployment as well as the lack of equal opportunities for women and persons with disabilities in the labour market. The 1999 Employment Guidelines emphasise the reintegration of workers The measures contained therein include reforms to tax and benefit systems and promotion of education and training, especially in fast-changing fields such as information and communication technologies.

12. The Structural Funds are the main financial means of direct support for the most disadvantaged regions and people in the EU. Current Community initiatives include the URBANII and LEADER+ programmes on urban and rural integration respectively.

13. The Knowledge Society has the potential to be a powerful force for inclusion and cohesion in Europe. The Commission’s communications on the initiatives ” e-Europe – The Information Society for all ” and “Strategies for jobs in the Information Society” stress the fact that Europe’s population, and young people in particular, must have extensive access to new basic skills and need to be able to use information technologies.

14. Other Community measures contribute to promoting social inclusion, such as the framework programmes for research or those supporting education (SOCRATES), training (LEONARDO DA VINCI), young people (YOUTH), etc.

Supporting Member States’ efforts to promote inclusion and participation

15. At their informal meeting in Lisbon in February 2000, the Social Affairs Ministers decided that it was crucial to make the Member States’ economic and social policies more inclusive. The European Union wishes to make a political commitment to this end. The purpose is to encourage open forms of cooperation between Member States rather than to set up a heavy coordination process.

Common objectives for social inclusion

16. In accordance with the provisions of the Amsterdam Treaty, the role of the Community is to complement and support the Member States’ initiatives, focussing on actions which add real value.

17. The convergent developments under way in the Member States make it possible to envisage the development of common objectives at EU level, such as:

  • mainstreaming social inclusion in EU policies;
  • development of common social exclusion and inclusion indicators;
  • acess for all to the Knowledge Society;
  • active participation for all as a result of the expected economic growth.

18. These common objectives mean that the Member States must establish general strategies at national level and develop, as appropriate, national programmes or framework legislation.

19. The Commission is developing with the Member States mechanisms for comparative assessement of performance in order to monitor the progress made in each country.

Operational tools under the new provisions of the Amsterdam Treaty

20. According to Article 137(2), last subparagraph, of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC), a multiannual programme is envisaged to promote cooperation between the Member States and to make their policies more inclusive.

21. This programme of support for cooperation uses existing human resources and has a limited budget. Its activities are focussed around three main strands:

  • fostering understanding of social exclusion and inclusion policy mechanisms;
  • identifying and exchanging good practice;
  • promoting policy dialogue and debate.

22. Article 137(2), first subparagraph, also provides for a framework instrument capable of promoting the integration of persons excluded from the labour market. The key principles of this instrument include the need for a comprehensive and integrated approach to social exclusion, the need for partnerships and coordination measures, and the setting up of pathways to integration.

 

European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (2010)

The fight against poverty and social exclusion is a primary objective of the European Union (EU) and its Member States. A significant part of the European population is in a situation of poverty and lacks access to basic services. The launch of a European Year dedicated to this objective is intended to give a new impetus to the process of social inclusion.

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 1098/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 on the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (2010) (Text with EEA relevance).

Summary

On the occasion of the European Year 2010, the European Union (EU) reaffirms its commitment to the fight against poverty and social exclusion. It promotes a social model contributing to the welfare of individuals, their participation in society and the economic development of Europe.

The fight against poverty and social exclusion is linked to a series of socioeconomic and cultural factors which call for multidimensional strategies of national, regional and local dimension. It requires the participation of public authorities and individuals alike.

Objectives and beneficiaries

This initiative aims at informing European citizens but also to give a voice to people in a situation of poverty and social exclusion.

In accordance with the European principles of solidarity and social justice, the Year will have four guiding principles.

Recognition of the fundamental right of people in a situation of poverty to live in dignity and to play a full part in society. In particular, the aim is to guarantee access to resources, social services, culture and leisure.

Promotion of social cohesion,in the form of actions to enhance quality of life, social welfare, equal opportunities and sustainable development, by promoting an employment market that is open to all and the principle of equality in education and training. In particular, these actions will target victims of discrimination, people with disabilities, children and situations of family poverty, vulnerable groups or groups in a situation of extreme poverty.

Shared responsibility and collective and individual participation, to expand the role of all public or private actors in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

Commitment and political action by the Member States and the EU, and the intensification of actions taken at all levels of authority. In this respect, the potential of the open method of coordination (OMC[m1]) introduced by the EU in 2000 in the fields of social protection and inclusion must be better exploited.

Actions and procedure

This initiative will give rise to actions launched at Community and national level. They will take the form of public awareness campaigns, innovative and creative initiatives, or meetings, discussions and studies. A committee of representatives of the Member States will support the Commission in the implementation of the European Year.

The Member States shall carry out these actions through national programmes adapting the Community guidelines to the challenges and priorities of each country. Each Member State shall appoint a body to prepare and implement these programmes. Those bodies will cooperate with civil society, the social partners, and regional and local authorities.

These objectives should be pursued both within the EU and beyond its borders. The initiative is open to participation by European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States, candidate countries for EU accession and third countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

Context

The building of a society which is founded on social inclusion and on reducing poverty is one of the essential priorities of the EU. At the Lisbon summit in 2000 the Member States committed themselves to making progress towards the elimination of poverty in Europe by 2010.

Carried out in the context of the process of social inclusion, their actions require the wider participation of all the actors involved.

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 1098/2008/EC

27.11.2008

OJ L 298 of 7.11.2008

Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market

Document or Iniciative

Commission Recommendation 2008/867/EC of 3 October 2008 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market [Official Journal L 307 of 18.11.2008].

Summary

With this Recommendation, the Commission is encouraging Member States to take action for the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market. To this end, the Commission recommends that the Member States draw up and implement an integrated comprehensive strategy. The strategy should be composed of the following three strands:

  • sufficient income support;
  • inclusive labour markets;
  • access to quality services.

The actions should support the employment of those who can work, providing the resources required for a dignified life, and promote the social participation of those who cannot work.

The Member States are further recommended to ensure that the inclusion policies are effective. This should be done by:

  • combining the above three strands of the strategy in an appropriate manner;
  • implementing the strategy in an integrated manner across the three strands;
  • coordinating the policies among authorities at local, regional, national and European Union (EU) level;
  • including all relevant actors in the development, implementation and evaluation of the strategy.

In particular, the inclusion policies should take account of fundamental rights, the promotion of equal opportunities for all, the specific needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and the local and regional contexts. In addition, the inclusion policies should contribute to preventing the intergenerational transmission of poverty.

Furthermore, the Commission recommends that the Member States organise and implement active inclusion policies with the detailed set of common principles and practical guidelines put forward in the document. With regard to:

  • sufficient income support, Member States should recognise and implement the right of individuals to adequate resources and social assistance as part of consistent and comprehensive efforts to fight social exclusion;
  • inclusive labour markets, Member States should provide assistance for those who can work to enter or re-enter and stay in employment that best relates to their capacity to work;
  • access to quality services, Member States should ensure that proper social support is given to those that require it, in order to promote social and economic inclusion.

The Member States are also recommended to ensure that the necessary resources and benefits are provided under the social protection instruments, taking into account the economic and budgetary constraints. Active inclusion measures may also be funded from the Structural Funds. Information about the rights and support measures available to all must be publicised widely, and if possible, through electronic means.

In addition, Member States should simplify administrative procedures. At the same time, access for the public to the appeals systems should be made easier.

Finally, the Commission is also recommending that the Member States take steps to enhance indicators and statistical data on active inclusion policies. The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) on social protection and inclusion should be employed for monitoring and evaluating these policies on the basis of close collaboration between the Social Protection and the Employment Committees and with the support of the activities funded by the Progress programme.

The active inclusion measures should be aligned with the social cohesion objectives of the Lisbon Strategy.

Background

Poverty and social exclusion are addressed, in particular, in the Council Recommendation 92/441/EEC of 24 June 1992 on common criteria concerning sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems. While this Recommendation still applies, additional measures need to be taken to implement it fully. Subsequent instruments include, among others, the OMC on social protection and inclusion and the European employment strategy. Furthermore, the persisting problems, especially in terms of poverty and joblessness, require that social protection systems are modernised and that comprehensive and integrated policies are initiated. These are the objectives of the “active inclusion” approach that complements social assistance benefits with support to enter the labour market and with access to quality services.

Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion

Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 2 July 2008 – ‘A renewed commitment to social Europe: Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for Social Protection and Social Inclusion’ [COM(2008) 418 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is used by Member States to support the definition, implementation and evaluation of their social policies and to develop their mutual cooperation. A tool of governance based on common objectives and indicators, the method supplements the legislative and financial instruments of social policy. It is part of the implementation of the process of coordination of social policies, particularly in the context of the renewed Lisbon Strategy.

The single social OMC established in 2005 applies to the fields of:

  • the eradication of poverty and social exclusion;
  • guaranteeing adequate and sustainable pension systems;
  • providing accessible, high-quality and sustainable health care and long-term care.

The OMC process is structured as three-year cycles, leading to national reports which are synthesised by the Commission and the Council in a joint report. The proper conduct of the process is reviewed periodically by the Social Protection Committee in partnership with representatives of civil society and the social partners.

REINFORCEMENT OF THE METHOD

The potential of the OMC can be exploited more fully in order to achieve the common objectives laid down in the field of social inclusion and social protection. The reinforcement of the method aims at consolidating the existing practices and developing new guidelines.

Political commitment and visibility

The OMC should progressively adopt the methodology of the renewed Lisbon Strategy, particularly for the adoption of the joint political objectives, and in interaction with the Commission’s recommendations in social matters.

Similarly, Member States should set quantitative targets in order to focus better on certain sectors of social policy (particularly child poverty, in-work poverty and poverty of older people). These quantified targets will be based on social indicators, which may be differentiated by country or group of countries. By using the Lisbon methodology, the OMC will be better able to evaluate the results of the reforms and to make them more visible.

Interaction with other Community policies

In accordance with the objectives of the Renewed Social Agenda, all European policies should have a social impact, assessed by the Commission. In this perspective, the OMC’s horizontal coordination role should be reinforced. Similarly, the coordination between the Social Protection Committee and the other high-level committees involved in the development of European social and economic policies should be improved.

Analytical tools

The development of social policies should be more broadly based on scientific data and on indicators common to Member States; their use will make it possible to improve the achievement of the common objectives laid down under the OMC. The Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS) will make it possible to develop the collection and analysis of statistical data and the defining of indicators in relation to the topics covered by the OMC.

Ownership by all relevant actors

The OMC’s peer review stage should promote mutual learning and knowledge transfer. The PROGRESS programme can serve as a tool for the transfer of expertise and experience in the context of Community projects or training connected with the process of the Social OMC.

The increased participation of all stakeholders, throughout the cycle, and in particular territorial authorities and civil society, is essential to fully achieve the targets set by the OMC.

Background

The OMC was launched at the Lisbon Council in March 2000 in order to identify and promote the most effective social policies. The period of 2003-2006 was devoted to preparing for the streamlining of the process. In 2008 the Commission proposed a reinforcement of the single Social OMC in accordance with the objectives of the Renewed Social Agenda and the Council’s conclusions of March 2008 (pdf ) for improved integration of economic, social and employment policies.

The Social Agenda and the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs will be revised in 2010.