Tag Archives: Fight against poverty

Strategy for cooperation with Bangladesh

Strategy for cooperation with Bangladesh

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for cooperation with Bangladesh

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

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

Strategy for cooperation with Bangladesh (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

The European Commission – Bangladesh Strategy Paper 2007-2013 .

Summary

Following the adoption of a new partnership agreement in 2001, the European Union (EU) and Bangladesh are cooperating in many areas. Primarily, EU intervention should support the country in reducing poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

All cooperation projects must incorporate the objectives of protecting gender equality, rural development, food safety, environmental protection and good public governance.

Short-term priorities

This strategy aims at establishing a balance between social development and economic development. The partners therefore identify priority areas for action:

  • human and social development, through programmes to promote health, nutrition, access to education, decent work and the fight against poverty;
  • good governance, particularly as regards the management of public finances, the judicial system and the effectiveness of the State;
  • the protection of human rights, mainly to improve respect for the rights of women and children, but also of minority groups such as refugees and the disabled;
  • economic and trade development, to enable the country to be integrated into the global trade system, to increase the competitiveness of enterprises and the diversification of economic production.

Long-term priorities

During the second phase of implementation of the strategy, a series of actions are to be carried out in the areas of:

  • the environment and disaster management, the consequences of which mainly affect the poorest people;
  • food security and nutrition, so as to permanently reduce malnutrition rates, particularly in rural areas.

Strategy for cooperation with Vietnam

Strategy for cooperation with Vietnam

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for cooperation with Vietnam

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

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

Strategy for cooperation with Vietnam (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

The European Commission – Vietnam Strategy Paper 2007-2013 .

Summary

Cooperation between the European Union (EU) and Vietnam aims primarily to reduce the level of poverty in the country. This aim is pursued in line with Vietnam’s socio-economic development plan and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Cooperation priorities

This strategy identifies a limited number of areas for cooperation, in order to enhance the effectiveness of development aid. Cooperation actions are mainly financed through the instrument for development cooperation (DCI). They are aimed at supporting:

  • socio-economic development, particularly the reform of public policies and the increase of financial resources, including by mobilising international donors;
  • the health sector, especially to improve access to care, the development of infrastructure and to extend the coverage of social protection to the whole population.

Furthermore, the EU supports the development of trade with Vietnam, to help the country to maximise its international trade development and exploit its membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Cooperation should contribute to the development of trade policies, and the legal framework applicable to workers, enterprises, investment and exports.

The increase in trade should have a positive impact on reducing poverty and the sustainable development of the country.

Policy dialogue

The partners are undertaking a strategic dialogue, in particular with a view to strengthening public institutions, public administration, good governance and human rights.

In addition, a set of thematic objectives supplements these priorities. They can be implemented through the European Instrument for Stability. The objectives are as follows:

  • democracy and human rights;
  • the development of civil society;
  • migration and asylum policy;
  • human and social development;
  • environmental protection and sustainable resource management;
  • higher education.

Cross-cutting issues

Cooperation actions should have a positive impact on gender equality, the fight against HIV/AIDS, environmental protection, democracy, good governance and human rights.

Context

In 2007, Vietnam and the EU launched negotiations with a view to intensifying their relations by adopting a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

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

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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

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

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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.

Joint report on social inclusion

Joint report on social inclusion

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Joint report on 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

Joint report on social inclusion

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 12 December 2003 concerning the joint report on social inclusion summarising the results of the examination of the National Action Plans for Social Inclusion (2003-2005) [COM(2003)773 – Not published in the official journal].

Summary

In order to encourage more ambitious and effective strategies to promote social inclusion, the report sets out the main trends and challenges associated with policies to combat poverty and social inclusion within the European Union. It also highlights the progress achieved in implementing the open method of coordination between the Member States and outlines the main priorities for action. This report served as the basis for the joint report by the Council and the Commission, which was adopted in March 2004.

SOCIAL INCLUSION – SITUATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

Overview

The action taken by the European Union to promote social inclusion must be examined in light of the overall economic downturn which Europe has suffered for the past few years. This development, which has been associated with a slowdown in employment growth and an increase in unemployment, has hampered, but not stopped, the European Union in its efforts to achieve the employment objectives set out in Lisbon and Stockholm.

The years immediately preceding the introduction of the new social inclusion strategy have seen a reduction in relative poverty, which fell from 17% in 1995 to 15% in 2001. In all countries, the poverty threshold has risen faster than the rate of inflation, implying an increase in the overall level of prosperity. Between 1998 and 2001, the risk of poverty also fell across the board.

The present report nevertheless points out that, in 2001, more than 55 million people were still facing the risk of poverty, i.e. 15% of the European population. The groups most at risk were the unemployed, single parents, elderly people living alone and families with a large number of children.

The risk of poverty varies widely from one country to another, from 10% in Sweden to 21% in Ireland. In the countries in the south, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland, vulnerable members of the population generally benefit less from prosperity and are also more at risk from the most persistent forms of poverty and privation.

Moreover, long-term unemployment, which is closely linked to social exclusion, has a significant role to play. In 2002, it affected almost 3% of the working population (or 39% of the unemployed). With a few exceptions (Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom), it affects women more than men. Nevertheless, long-term unemployment has fallen steadily since 1995, when it reached its peak of 4.9%.

Although these statistics give cause for concern, significant progress has been made in the labour market. In 2002, the average employment rate within the European Union rose from 63.4% to 64.3%. Women benefited the most, with female employment increasing by more than 1% between 2001 and 2003 (from 54.1% to 55.6%). Moreover, the employment rate of elderly people rose significantly within the EU as a whole, except for Austria, Germany and Italy.

The six major priorities associated with the Lisbon objective

In an attempt to achieve the Lisbon objective, it is necessary to ensure that those facing the risk of poverty and social exclusion do not suffer disproportionately from the effects of the economic slowdown and the resulting budget restrictions. The Member States are therefore asked to attach the greatest possible importance to the following six policy priorities:

  • promoting investment in and tailoring of active labour market measures to meet the needs of those who have the greatest difficulties in accessing employment;
  • ensuring that social protection schemes are adequate and accessible for all and that they provide effective work incentives for those who can work;
  • improving access by those most at risk of social exclusion to proper housing and healthcare, and to education and lifelong learning;
  • making a concerted effort to prevent dropping out of school and promoting a smooth transition from school to the workplace;
  • focusing on the eradication of child poverty;
  • developing a dynamic policy to reduce poverty and social exclusion among immigrants and ethnic minorities.

National action plans for social inclusion 2003

The second generation of national action plans for social inclusion are based on a less optimistic view of the economic situation than their predecessors. The current economic slowdown could place people at greater risk of poverty and social exclusion. Moreover, those who are already affected are bound to suffer as a result of the overall increase in long-term unemployment and the fact that it is now more difficult to find work.

If the fight against poverty and social exclusion is to be properly coordinated and effective, the Member States must make it part of their economic, social and employment policies.

Against this background, the eight major challenges identified in the first joint report continue to be the following:

  • developing an inclusive labour market and promoting employment as a right and opportunity for all;
  • guaranteeing an adequate income and resources to live with dignity;
  • tackling educational disadvantage by prevention and lifelong learning opportunities;
  • preserving family solidarity while promoting gender equality and protecting the individual rights and benefits of family members and the rights of the child;
  • proper accommodation for all;
  • guaranteeing equal access to quality services;
  • improving public services so that they meet local and individual needs;
  • regenerating areas of multiple hardship.

Each national action plan for social inclusion is based on very different considerations, depending on the approach and priorities of the Member State which drew it up. However, irrespective of the country concerned, the national action plan for social inclusion has to meet three basic criteria:

  • exhaustive and multidimensional approach
    Wherever possible, the national action plans for social inclusion must implement actions and policies in the different areas which affect the public. This multidimensional approach is evident in the national action plans drawn up by Belgium, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Greece.
  • coherent and planned approach
    The national action plans for social inclusion must be based on an in-depth analysis of the situation and must define clear and specific objectives. On the whole, the plans drawn up in 2003 were more coherent than their predecessors. A number of Member States, particularly the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, stand out because of the strategic and logical vision reflected in their plans.
  • definition of objectives
    The plans must set precise targets for eradicating poverty and social exclusion by 2010. In general, three tendencies are evident from the plans drawn up by the Member States:

– direct outcome targets: aimed directly at reducing poverty and social exclusion in a key policy area;

– intermediate outcome targets: contribute indirectly to reducing poverty and social exclusion;

– input targets: improve policy effort in a particular area.

Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal are among the small number of Member States which have really established clear overall targets. In general, the approach is less systematic and focuses on problems of employment and unemployment. Few Member States take account of the male-female dimension.

SOCIAL INCLUSION – SITUATION IN THE MEMBER STATES

Belgium

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– adoption of active measures to help the labour market;
– improvement of social protection and innovation in health-care provision;
– action to combat discrimination.

– Minus points:

– increase in long-term unemployment and youth unemployment;
– rather inconclusive results as regards housing, education and lifelong learning.

  • Strategy based on:

– an active welfare state;
– access to justice, culture and rights for atypical families;
– the male-female dimension;
-immigration questions;
-efforts to combat the over-indebtedness of poor populations.

Denmark

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– one of the lowest monetary poverty rates in the European Union;
– more equal distribution of income than in most Member States;
– introduction of flexible and protected working arrangements, and a method based on the capacity for work;
– introduction of an early retirement scheme and an integrated planning programme based on the development of employment.

– Minus point: life expectancy has increased less than in other Member States.

  • Strategy based on:

– administrative bodies, local authorities and local coordination committees;
-the involvement of users, particularly the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups;
– individualisation of needs;
– voluntary work.

Germany

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– lower risk of poverty than in most Member States;
– he objective of reducing unemployment among the disabled by 25% has almost been achieved;
– introduction of a system of basic social protection designed to reduce poverty among the elderly or infirm;
– implementation of the “Social city” programme to help disadvantaged areas.

– Minus point: discrepancy between the west, where the poverty rate is 10% and the east, where it stands at 16%.

  • Strategy based on:

– a programme of objectives,
– local and regional social policy.

Greece

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– constant improvement in the macroeconomic situation;
– GDP growth is above the EU average;
– development of employment growth and fall in unemployment rate;
– improvement of the system of social protection and increase in social expenditure, in particular for vulnerable groups.

– Minus point: poverty rate is below the EU average.

  • Strategy based on:

– a convergence charter adopted in 2003, and ten national objectives which have to be achieved by 2010;
– general policies, particularly as regards economic growth and structural changes;
– specific measures designed to resolve the problems of poverty and social exclusion;
– four main lines of action: rural areas, elderly people, promotion of access to employment and the quality of management.

Spain

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– GDP growth is above the EU average;
– reduction in long-term and very long-term unemployment rate;
– extension of the fight against social exclusion at regional and local levels;
– progress in terms of cooperation between the social services and employment services;
– resources used to help vulnerable groups, particularly via financial assistance to victims of domestic violence.

– Minus point: the unemployment rate for women is still much higher than that for men, and more women than men are in temporary work.

  • Strategy based on:

– employment;
– access of groups who are at risk of or living in poverty to health care, education and housing;
-objective of reducing by 2% the number of people living below the poverty level;
– greater involvement of women with few qualifications in the labour market.

France

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus point: significant progress as regards access to rights, in particular health care and justice.

– Minus points:

– very weak growth, which has led to a slowdown in the creation of jobs and a rise in unemployment (9.6% in 2003);
-increase in the number of people receiving the minimum income benefit;
-housing policies are insufficient to meet the needs concerned.

  • Strategy based on:

– access to rights and employment;
-decentralisation of territorial entities and the private sector;
-quantifiable objectives covering the main aspects of the national action plan for social inclusion.

Ireland

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– drop in persistent poverty and in the school drop-out rate;
– implementation of measures to support the unemployed and promote adult literacy;
– investment in infrastructure is above the EU average.

– Minus points:

-slowdown in economic growth, leading to a slight rise in unemployment;
-increase in the risk of poverty;
-life expectancy is lower than in other Member States;
-homelessness and the cost of housing still give cause for concern.

  • Strategy based on:

– access to employment and education;
– the most vulnerable groups;
– the examination of a number of social problems.

Italy

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– significant reduction in the risk and rate of poverty;
-approval by most regions of a regional social plan enabling them more effectively to adopt strategies to combat social exclusion.

– Minus points:

– wide discrepancy between the north and the south, where the poverty rate is four times higher.

  • Strategy based on:

– the 2003 White Paper on social policy in Italy;
– a social agenda over a three-year period;
– decentralisation towards the regions and local authorities.

Luxembourg

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus point: employment growth has been constant.

– Minus points:

– significant fall in the GDP growth rate and rise in unemployment;
– adoption of measures relating to facilities, housing assistance and resources for disabled people and young people.

  • Strategy based on:

– participation in employment;
– reconciliation of family life and work;
– access to housing;
– social inclusion of young people;
– access of vulnerable people to resources, rights and services.

Netherlands

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– one of the lowest poverty rates in the EU;
-employment rate overall and female employment rate are well above the Lisbon objectives;
– increase in participation in the labour market of ethnic minorities, older workers and people who are alienated from the labour market.

– Minus points:

– increase in the unemployment rate by 4% in one year;
– the number of young people leaving school without qualifications is still high among certain ethnic minorities;
– health care waiting lists for health care are worrying;
– facilities for children are incomplete.

  • Strategy based on:

– an innovative model which identifies the risks of poverty being passed on from one generation to another;
– a new system of financial award based on local authorities.

Austria

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– significant drop in the overall rate of poverty risk;
– slight increase in expenditure on social protection;
– lowest school drop-our rate in the EU;
– steady increase in female employment;
– adoption of measures to help the elderly, the unemployed who are most disadvantaged, disabled people and immigrants.

– Minus points:

– progressive increase in the youth unemployment rate;
– one of the lowest rates of graduates in Europe.

  • Strategy based on:

– bringing down the school drop-out rate;
– guarantee of a minimum salary of EURO 1 000 and a tax exception up to this ceiling;
– extension of the minimum retirement scheme;
– continued integration of migrants.

Portugal

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus point: introduction of a minimum wage scheme and of employment promotion measures.

– Minus points:

– adverse impact of the current economic slowdown, particularly on the unemployment rate and overall productivity;
– the poverty rate is still one of the highest in the EU.

  • Strategy based on:

– very general objectives and principles, without explicitly mentioning sources of financing and budgets used;
– a “Social Network”;
– education and training;
– increasing the value of minimum retirement pensions;
– certain vulnerable groups (children, young people, the homeless, immigrants);
– access of the public to information on their social rights.

Finland

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus point: the Finnish social system is based on the principle of universality, the aim of which is to provide the entire population with social assistance and health care services with a view to guaranteeing resources.

– Minus points:

– impact of slowdown in growth on the demand for labour;
– increase in the unemployment rate and reduction in the employment rate.

  • Strategy based on:

– the existing system of social protection, based on the principle of decentralisation;
-a timetable for monitoring the implementation of all measures;
-four major policies: promoting health and working life, making working life more attractive, preventing and combating social exclusion and guaranteeing effective services.

Sweden

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– the proportion of GDP used for expenditure on social protection is the highest in the EU;
– lowest poverty rate in the EU;
– distribution of income is relatively equal;
– very high employment rate and very low unemployment rate;
-increased effort to promote social integration and reduction in the percentage of recipients of social assistance.

– Minus point: the objective of reducing dependence on social assistance by half and increasing the employment rate to 80% by 2004 will be difficult to achieve.

  • Strategy based on:

– a high employment rate, achieved through a number of measures allowing individuals to work and meet their needs;
– a significant reduction in the number of people at risk of poverty by 2010;
– integration of the male-female dimension.

United Kingdom

  • Situation and key trends:

– Plus points:

– high employment level and low unemployment level;
– considerable resources used to help vulnerable groups.

– Minus points:
– poverty rate is above the European average,
– social disparity is still marked.

  • Strategy based on:

– a strategy to combat poverty and social exclusion involving a large number of people;
– high quality public services;
– particularly disadvantaged groups;
– the eradication of child poverty by 2020;
– promoting access to the employment market and to skilled work;
– high and stable employment levels.

CONTEXT

The Lisbon European Council of March 2000 asked the Member States and the Commission to take ambitious and effective measures by 2010 to eradicate poverty. It was also suggested that they should coordinate their policies to combat poverty and social exclusion in order to pool their objectives, indicators and national action plans.

In December 2000, the Nice European Council decided to launch a new method of combating poverty and social exclusion, based on four objectives:

  • promoting participation in employment and access by all to resources, rights, goods and services;
  • preventing the risks of exclusion;
  • action to help the most vulnerable;
  • mobilising all relevant bodies.

In this context, the national action plans for social inclusion, which were submitted in June 2001, aimed to translate the common objectives into national policies, while taking account of the situation in each Member State, and the different national systems of social protection.

The national action plans for social inclusion were examined in depth by the European Commission and the Member States in the joint report on social inclusion approved by the Laeken European Council in December 2001.

In December 2002, the European Council asked the Member States to prepare a second set of national action plans for social inclusion for July 2003.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 10 October 2001 concerning the draft joint report on social inclusion (2000-2002) [COM(2001) 565 – Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission staff working paper. Social inclusion in the new Member States. A synthesis of the joint memoranda on social inclusion [SEC(2004) 848].

The Gothenburg European Council asked the new Member States to transpose into their national policies the social, environmental and economic objectives of the European Union.

Against this background, the Joint Inclusion Memoranda (JIM) reflect the political commitment of the new Member States to attach greater importance to combating poverty and social exclusion.

Social exclusion is a thorny problem in most of the new Member States and is largely the result of their readjustment to a market economy. This profound change resulted in a severe fall in production and a significant increase in the unemployment rate, particularly in the Baltic States, Poland and Slovakia.

In absolute terms, the risk of poverty in the new Member States is comparable with that in the old Member States. However, salary levels in the new Member States are much lower and people living below the poverty level experience living conditions which are significantly worse than those in the other countries in the EU.

The worrying levels of poverty highlighted in the Joint Inclusion Memoranda prove that the need for action is urgent. In this regard, six main challenges have been identified:

  • expand employment market policies in order to improve the integration of those groups who are most at risk;
  • ensure that social security systems guarantee an adequate minimum wage which enables everyone to live with dignity;
  • increase the opportunities available in the fields of education and lifelong learning, particularly for those at risk of poverty and social exclusion;
  • improve the quality of public services;
  • step up efforts to combat very high levels of exclusion and discrimination against certain ethnic groups, such as the Roma, and other very vulnerable groups;
  • strengthen policies to support the family and social assistance networks and reinforce the protection of children’s rights.

EU support for business sector development in third countries

EU support for business sector development in third countries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU support for business sector development in third countries

Topics

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

Development > Sectoral development policies

EU support for business sector development in third countries

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 19 May 2003: “European Community Cooperation with Third Countries: the Commission’s approach to future support for the development of the business sector” [COM(2003) 267 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

On the basis of past experience in supporting business sector development in third countries, the Commission has identified five areas of intervention or instruments on which it will base its approach:

  • overall policy dialogue and support, in particular as regards macroeconomic and trade policy, and good governance, providing the regulatory framework;
  • investment and inter-enterprise cooperation promotion activities;
  • facilitation of investment financing and development of financial markets;
  • support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the shape of non-financial services;
  • support for micro-enterprises.

“Third countries” here include developing countries, countries in transition and/or reconstruction, the so-called “emerging economies”, Mexico and the OECD countries. The term does not include the candidate countries for accession to the EU.

Businesses concerned include private sector enterprises of whatever size and those public sector enterprises operating under market conditions.

Overall policy dialogue and support

The Community’s action in this area will aim at creating, through dialogue with its local counterparts, a policy framework at national and regional level to support and foster competitiveness, the market economy and good governance.

This will encompass technical assistance in support of reforms, particularly in the areas of legislation, banking, finance, taxation, public expenditure, customs procedures, trade facilitation measures, institution building and administrative efficiency.

Investment and inter-enterprise cooperation promotion activities

Community support for the promotion of investment and technology transfer from industrialised to developing countries will aim, at national and regional levels, to enhance:

  • sustainable and environmentally friendly investment (especially from abroad);
  • inter-enterprise cooperation agreements with a view to increasing the competitiveness of the economies concerned, and in particular enhancing export prospects.

Depending on the level of development of the countries involved, Community support could include strengthening the role of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), providers of investment-related services and other private intermediaries (Chambers of Commerce and Industry, professional associations, consultancies).

Facilitation of investment financing and development of financial markets

On the assumption that more efficient financial markets are essential for healthy private sector development in developing countries, the Commission intends to provide the appropriate framework for supplying well-developed and efficient financial services for SMEs.

The instruments that will be set up, especially the investment financing facilities, will ensure that high-quality and dedicated financial services are available to private companies in both the formal and informal sectors.

This should in particular mobilise private savings flows (both domestic and foreign) to finance investments that are essential for a thriving business sector.

Support for SMEs in the form of non-financial services

On the understanding that effective business development services are essential for the growth of SMEs and micro-enterprises, the Commission will encourage private sector companies to enhance their competitiveness, gain access to modern technology, improve management and seek new markets.

Several measures will be introduced, including:

  • initial and ongoing guidance for companies and professional associations;
  • upgrading of skills to help modernise enterprises and encourage the creation of networks of enterprises or cooperatives;
  • assistance with preparing and implementing business plans; etc.

Support for micro-enterprises

In many countries, micro-enterprises are the ideal means of participating in economic growth, particularly for the most disadvantaged. The greatest obstacle to the development of such enterprises is a shortage of appropriate local services, both financial and non-financial, the lack of a business culture and information about markets, and access to financial resources.

To support micro-enterprise development, the Commission proposes, in addition to the macro-and micro-economic criteria noted above, helping third countries to:

  • strengthen institutions and the capacity of intermediary bodies which represent micro-enterprises and act as providers of public goods;
  • encourage micro-finance institutions to develop new services and financial products which are well adapted to the medium- and long-term needs of small and micro-enterprises;
  • integrate micro-finance within local financial systems;
  • improve the performance of micro-finance bodies.

Implementation and follow-up

The Commission plans to retain complete control of the monitoring and assessment of the instruments put in place, and of policy, programming and design aspects of these five areas of intervention. This may also involve the implementation of specific measures, including technical assistance.

As regards the implementation and management of financial instruments, including micro-finance and non-financial services (Business Development Services), the Commission plans to make full use of intermediaries with whom it will establish appropriate management/financial agreements or conventions.

The Commission will also seek to promote and develop more effective cooperation and coordination between the Community’s external assistance programmes and the activities of the European Investment Bank and other financial intermediaries, particularly in third countries.

Strategy for Chile 2007-2013

Strategy for Chile 2007-2013

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for Chile 2007-2013

Topics

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

External relations > Relations with third countries > Latin america

Strategy for Chile 2007-2013

Document or Iniciative

European Commission – Chile Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013 .

Summary

This Paper defines the priorities for cooperation and dialogue between the European Union and Chile for the period 2007-2013.

This strategy aims to deepen the relationship established by the 2002 Association Agreement and to identify new areas of common interest to the partners.

Areas of cooperation

Cooperation on matters of social cohesion should meet the aims of sustainable development and should contribute to social, economic and environmental development. Despite the modernisation of Chilean society, social inequalities remain and public policies must be strengthened.

The EU can support social reforms in Chile through technical assistance measures and exchanges of experience and information. In this respect, the intervention priorities concern:

  • fairer social and fiscal redistribution;
  • access to employment, health care, education, social protection and justice;
  • reduced inequalities between gender, ethnic origin and regions;
  • promotion of social dialogue;
  • the integration of social and environmental projects.

Cooperation on matters of innovation and competitiveness is based on the Association Agreement and coordinated with the activities provided for by theResearch and Development Framework Programme.

Joint action shall encourage research and development, which contributes towards business productivity, employment and the competitiveness of the country in global trade. The strategy therefore proposes actions to:

  • bring Chilean regulations closer to those of the EU with regard to industrial products and European and international sanitary and phytosanitary standards;
  • establish exchanges of experience between enterprises and promote small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • promote scientific and technological transfer;
  • develop effective and sustainable energy policies;
  • promote the protection and diffusion of intellectual property rights;
  • place environmental protection at the centre of research strategies.

Cross-cutting actions

Furthermore, the joint strategy provides for cross-cutting actions to promote gender equality, environmental protection and combating discrimination against the indigenous population.

Strategy for Venezuela 2007-2013

Strategy for Venezuela 2007-2013

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for Venezuela 2007-2013

Topics

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

External relations > Relations with third countries > Latin america

Strategy for Venezuela 2007-2013

Document or Iniciative

European Commission – Venezuela Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013 .

Summary

The Commission presents the priorities for cooperation and dialogue aimed at strengthening the existing relationship between the European Union (EU) and Venezuela.

The relationship between the partners is conducted at the regional level, specifically to increase integration and social cohesion between Venezuela and its neighbouring States, and at a bilateral level in order to support the public reforms of the country.

Cross-cutting priorities are also identified in order to ensure that environmental protection, human rights and the equal treatment of men and women are taken into account.

However, in order to respond to the most immediate development needs of the country, the partners also detail specific areas for cooperation.

Modernisation of the State

As a priority, bilateral cooperation shall support measures which aim to improve the functioning of public services, the judicial system and the rule of law. In addition, the EU shall support general modernisation of the public administration, good management of public expenditure and the participation of civil society in public life.

Economic reform

The strategy supports Venezuela’s efforts for economic diversification, the effects of which are favourable for business competitiveness and for the integration of the country in regional and international trade.

Furthermore, in order to promote equitable growth in the long term, several aspects of economic life still need to be improved, specifically:

  • training and skills development for employees;
  • the legal environment, favourable to foreign investment and to trade development.

Aid for Trade in developing countries

Aid for Trade in developing countries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Aid for Trade in developing countries

Topics

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

Development > Sectoral development policies

Aid for Trade in developing countries

Document or Iniciative

EU Strategy on Aid for Trade : Enhancing EU support for trade-related needs in developing countries – the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 29 October 2007 [Not published in the Official Journal].

This Strategy aims to facilitate the integration of developing countries, and least developed countries in particular, in the world trading system. The Strategy promotes the development of trade as a means of reducing world poverty, thus contributing to the Millennium Development Goals.

The aid supports the introduction of trade policies in favour of developing the commercial sector and removing trade barriers. Developing countries face structural deficiencies which slow down the growth of supply and demand. As such, specific support should be provided for the development of funding, infrastructure, knowledge and production capacity.

The Strategy lays down a series of priorities which should:

  • increase the overall Aid for Trade provided by the EU under its development aid commitments;
  • increase the impact of resources provided by the EU and its Member States. In particular, through greater effectiveness of Aid for Trade. This involves increased collaboration between and coordination of partners when needs are assessed, appropriate responses are developed and Aid for Trade is provided;
  • encourage regional integration, including through trade between the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), and focus action on poverty reduction;
  • reinforce progress monitoring.

Context

The European Trade Strategy comes under the framework of EU actions to fight world poverty, as well as the Doha Development Agenda and the initiative in favour of Aid for Trade, adopted by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

ACP-EU Energy Facility

ACP-EU Energy Facility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about ACP-EU Energy Facility

Topics

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

Development > African Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP)

ACP-EU Energy Facility

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 26 October 2004 on the future development of the EU Energy Initiative and the modalities for the establishment of an Energy Facility for ACP countries [COM(2004) 711 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

AN ENERGY FACILITY FOR ACP COUNTRIES

The Energy Facility for African, Pacific and Caribbean countries will be a catalyst promoting initiatives and projects in the area of energy, acting as a clearing house and building research and management capacity in ACP countries.

Key Principles

Four key principles underpin the Facility:

  • Governance: The Energy Facility targets in particular ACP countries which pursue or are firmly resolved to create a sound national energy policy, based on good governance principles. The Facility helps countries to establish their institutional and regulatory framework and to attract additional financial resources for public-private partnerships.
  • Ownership: The Energy Facility is to be fully demand driven. It will be an instrument to support and deepen the involvement of actors in ACP countries in the design and implementation of energy policies.
  • Flexibility: Maximum impact is sought by offering creative combinations of grants with other sources of financing. The Facility is open to joint financing with Member States, other international financing institutions such as the European Investment Bank and private sector investments via public-private partnerships.
  • Innovation: The Facility is intended to offer innovative responses to the challenge of providing sustainable energy services to the poorest areas. Projects can include electrifying rural areas, improving the efficiency of households’ cooking and promoting sustainable energy generation through bio-mass, small hydro-electric plants and wind turbines.

Priority Activity Areas to be funded under the Energy Facility

The Commission has identified three Priority Activity Areas:

  • Delivery of energy services: The largest financial contribution from the Facility is designed to improve rural people’s access to modern energy services, particularly in Africa. Priority is given to people in unserved areas. Proposals must ensure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the investment.
  • Creating an enabling environment: Where governance conditions are not in place for delivery-oriented intervention in the field, up to 20% of the Facility supports the development of an enabling environment for the energy sector based on good governance principles. The Facility facilitates the implementation of sound national energy policies and strategies, improves the institutional, legal and regulatory framework, strengthens the capacity of key stakeholders, and improves monitoring and evaluation capacity.
  • Supporting future large-scale investment programmes: Up to 20% of the Facility resources is devoted to preparatory activities required to facilitate future large-scale investment plans for cross-border interconnections, grid extensions and rural distribution, preparing them for financing by international finance institutions.

Management of the Energy Facility

Management of the Energy Facility must respect the principle of project ownership by the ACP partners and their right of initiative.

Officials from the Commission manage the Facility, although they are able to call on outside expertise.

The existing decision-making processes established between the EU and ACP institutions apply in the management of the Facility.

Member States are involved in the development and overall guidance of the Facility and are able to ensure the necessary coordination of their own bilateral activities with those of the Facility.

Implementation is developed along the lines of the Water Facility.

Approval by the EU

In June 2005, the ACP-EU Council approved the creation of the Facility, for a total amount of 220 million euros. The Commission approved its implementation in April 2006.

THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN ENERGY INITIATIVE

Recalling that access to modern energy services is a prerequisite for social and economic development, the Commission takes stock of the EU Energy Initiative launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

It notes, inter alia, that engaging in dialogue and specific partnerships with developing countries has led to strong ACP ownership of this initiative. But it has also revealed the need for allocation of more resources by the EU to this area, and this underlies the will to create a specific Energy Facility for ACP countries.

BACKGROUND

Energy is critical for almost all human activity, and access to modern energy services is a prerequisite for poverty alleviation and social and economic development.

Nearly two billion people in developing countries lack access to high quality, reliable and modern energy services. Recognising the importance of improving this access for the poor, the Commission and Member States launched the EU Energy Initiative for poverty eradication and sustainable development (EUEI) at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

This initiative has increased the attention given to energy services within the external assistance of the EU.