Policy Jargon Explainer
- Active inclusion
- Common indicators
- Common objectives of EU social protection strategy
- DG Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities
- European networks
- European meeting of people experiencing poverty
- European round table on poverty and social exclusion
- European year for combating poverty and social exclusion
- EU SILC: Statistics on income and living conditions
- Joint reports on social protections and social inclusion
- Lisbon strategy
- Mutual information system on social protection
- National strategic reports on social protection and social inclusion
- Open method of coordination thematic light year
- Open method of coordination on social protection and social inclusion
- Peer review
- Services of general interest
- Social protection committee
Active inclusion is a concept used by the EU in the framework of the EU strategy for social protection and social inclusion. It describes a holistic approach to promoting the integration of the most disadvantaged people through the development of an integrated strategy involving 3 pillars: 1) the provision of an adequate level of income support with 2) a link to the labour market and 3) access to services and in particular social services.
The aim of the strategy is to ensure that social protection policies effectively contribute to mobilising people who are capable of working while achieving the wider objective of providing a decent living standard to those who are and will remain outside the labour market. EAPN closely follows active inclusion debates (see here).
Progress of anti-poverty measures in different EU countries is monitored and evaluated in the framework of the EU strategy for social protection and social inclusion through the use of common European indicators which allow for comparability of national data and trends.
The broad methodological framework consists of a list of primary and secondary indicators for an overarching portfolio and the three strands (Social Inclusion, Pension, Health and Long-Term Care). Primary indicators are a reduced set of lead indicators, which cover all essential dimensions of the defined objectives. Secondary indicators aim at supporting these lead indicators by providing a greater insight into the nature of the problem.
These indicators are used for the overall National Reports on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion and the specific National Reports on the different strands (Social Inclusion, Pension , Health and Long-Term Care) as well as for the joint report presented by the European Commission and the Council. (Source: EC)
In the context of the Open Method of Coordination applied to Social Protection and Social Inclusion, Member States have agreed on common objectives. Member States translate these common objectives into national policies through national action plans. They are free to choose how they appropriately achieve the common objectives.
The overarching objectives of the Open Method of co-ordination for social protection and social inclusion are to promote:
- social cohesion, equality between men and women and equal opportunities for all through adequate, accessible, financially sustainable, adaptable and efficient social protection systems and social inclusion policies;
- effective and mutual interaction between the Lisbon objectives of greater economic growth, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, and with the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy;
- good governance, transparency and the involvement of stakeholders in the design, implementation and monitoring of policy. (Source: EC)
The Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (DG EMPL) is a department of the European Commission which has the task of contributing to the development of a modern, innovative and sustainable European Social Model with more and better jobs in an inclusive society based on equal opportunities.
It plays a key role in promoting positive interaction between economic, social and employment policies, bringing in the main players who can help to achieve the EU strategic objective, viz. to make Europe the world most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy, capable of sustainable economic growth, with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.
DG EMPL is responsible for addressing the major challenges and formulating concrete responses in the areas of employment, structures in the world of work, social exclusion and social protection and equality between men and women.
DG EMPL is the department in the European Commission which is responsible for developing the EU strategy for social protection and social inclusion.
In the framework of the EU strategy for social protection and social inclusion, European networks are developed to contribute to:
- a better understanding of the most concrete forms of social exclusion
- a regular monitoring of the implementation of the national action plans at a level closer to their main beneficiaries
- a greater awareness of the European strategy in the public opinion
- ensuring that this strategy takes into account the experience of people exposed to social exclusion
In this context, the European Commission has been supporting financially the following organisations since 2005: Eurochild, European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN), European Social Network (ESN) ; European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), Caritas Europa, and the European Transregional Network for Social Inclusion (RETIS). Currently EU networks are funded through the PROGRESS programme.
Outside of the Networks supported by the Commission under the Progress Programme there are many other European Networks and organisations working in the field of poverty and social exclusion, many of these are members of EAPN and/or of the Social Platform.
The annual Meeting of people experiencing poverty is jointly organised by the European Commission and Presidency of the EU and the European Anti Poverty Network to promote the participation of people experiencing poverty in EU social policy processes and debates.
These meetings are about recognising the right of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion to have their voice heard and an illustration of the importance of their engagement with structured networks that facilitate their involvement in the decision making processes that shape society.
The annual European Round Table on Poverty and Social Exclusion is meant to be one of the main events on social inclusion. It aims at promoting dialogue between all stakeholders in the context of the open method of coordination for social inclusion.
It is jointly organized by the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission in the second semester of each year. (Source: EC)
The European Commission has designated 2010 as the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. The Year will aims to reaffirm the EU’s commitment to making a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010 and provide financial support (EU contribution of € 17 million) to a wide range of activities such as meetings, surveys, research and awareness raising.
This will be an opportunity to raise awareness on different forms of poverty across the EU and different approaches to tackle this poverty, as well as strengthen participation of people experiencing poverty.
Therefore, this European Year 2010 will also provide opportunities for mutual learning across EU countries.
EAPN will actively follow and participate in the initiatives of this European Year (See here ).
This is a survey of households which covers all 27 Member States of the EU. It aims to gather timely and comparable multidimensional data on incomes and living conditions of EU households. This survey also collects data on poverty and social exclusion, which is then used to develop common European indicators on social inclusion.
A key feature of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is the joint analysis and assessment by the European Commission and the Council of the National Reports on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion submitted by the Member States.
The Joint Reports assess progress made in the implementation of the OMC, set key priorities and identify good practice and innovative approaches of common interest to the Member States. Since 2005, a Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion is published annually covering the areas of social inclusion, pensions and healthcare. (Source: EC)
The ‘Lisbon Strategy’ (also referred to as the Lisbon Agenda) is a way of describing the more immediate priority objectives of the EU for the period 2000-2010. It is called the ‘Lisbon Strategy’ because it was agreed at the Lisbon Council in 2000 when the Heads of State and Government of the EU agreed the following vision: “To make the EU the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world capable of sustaining more and better jobs and with greater social cohesion” (See EAPN’s position ).
The Mutual Information System on Social Protection (MISSOC) provides basic information about most of the social protection areas in each country, as well as about the financing of social protection, with highly structured and comparative information in over 300 information categories, grouped in 12 tables.
This information is now available in the MISSOC Database , which includes information from 2004 and onwards. The database allows the users to freely choose what specific social protection information categories and for which countries shall be gathered and displayed for her or his optimal use in each case.
Since 2000 Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway also joined the MISSOC network, followed by Switzerland in 2002. MISSOC now covers all countries of the European Economic Area and EFTA, a total of 31 countries. (Source: EC)
Following the merging (streamlining) of the Open Method of Coordination on Social Protection and Social Inclusion, Member States are now charged with translating the EU common EU social objectives into National Plans for each of the three areas of Social Inclusion, Pensions and Health and Long-Term Care. These plans, which cover a period of two years, are submitted to the Commission in the form of a National Report on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion.
The part of the national strategic reports focusing on the Social Inclusion aspect is referred to as “National Action Plans on Social Inclusion” (NAP/Incl). EAPN monitors this national reporting process closely (see here). (Source: EC)
This thematic year is organized in the framework of the OMC. It is a “light” year in terms of the national reporting since it is a year during which the EU countries are not expected to submit a National Strategic Report. This “light” year through the absence of national reporting is used to develop exchanges of knowledge and mutual learning on a specific theme. In 2007, the theme was child poverty. (Source: Feantsa).
EAPN considers it vital that the OMC continues to promote an active stakeholder involvement in the thematic focus at national and EU level and does not use this focus to replace the on-going evaluation at national level of the delivery on the NAP Inclusion and the National Strategic Reports on social protection and social inclusion.
For policy areas where the European Union cannot adopt European legislation (i.e. areas which remain the responsibility of national governments), there are soft law methods which are used to promote cooperation between EU countries. The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is one of these soft law methods.
The OMC provides a new framework for cooperation between the Member States, whose national policies can thus be directed towards certain common objectives. Under this intergovernmental method, the Member States are evaluated by one another (peer pressure), with the Commission’s role being limited to monitoring and facilitating.
The European Parliament and the Court of Justice play virtually no part in the OMC process. The OMC is used in policy areas which are developed at national level such as employment, social protection, social inclusion, education, youth, vocational training.
Member States since 2000 co-ordinate their policies for combating poverty and social exclusion through the OMC.
From 2001 to 2005 this method only focused on social inclusion and was developed around a set of four objectives on the fight against poverty (access to resources, rights, goods, services and employment, prevention of poverty, addressing situations of poverty and mobilising all actors including NGOs).
Since 2006, three policy areas are jointly addressed through this process, now known as the streamlined “Open Method of Coordination on social protection and social inclusion”:
- The fight against poverty and social exclusion
- Adequate and sustainable pensions
- Accessible, high quality and sustainable health and long-term care.
The OMC involves:
- jointly identifying and defining objectives to be achieved (adopted by the Council);
- jointly established measuring instruments (statistics, indicators, guidelines);
- benchmarking, i.e. comparison of the Member States’ performance and exchange of best practices (monitored by the Commission).
Peer Reviews are a key instrument of the OMC. The Peer Review is a mutual learning process involving the scrutiny of specific policies on the basis of proposals volunteered by Member States. A “host country” presents a policy or institutional arrangement (good practice) or a policy reform to a selected group of decision-makers and experts from other countries (“peer countries”) and to stakeholders’ representatives and European Commission officials. It allows an open discussion on social inclusion policies. (Source: EC)
The Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS) was established to financially support the implementation of the objectives of the European Union in the employment and social affairs area, as set out in the Social Agenda, and thereby contribute to the achievement of the Lisbon Strategy goals in these fields.
The seven-year Programme (2007-2013) targeted all stakeholders helped shape the development of appropriate and effective employment and social legislation and policies, across the EU-27, EFTA and EU candidate and pre-candidate countries.
To that effect, PROGRESS purports at:
- providing analysis and policy advice on employment, social solidarity and gender equality policy areas;
- monitoring and reporting on the implementation of EU legislation and policies in employment, social solidarity and gender equality policy areas;
- promoting policy transfer, learning and support among Member States on EU objectives and priorities; and
- relaying the views of the stakeholders and society at large.
Networks like the European Anti Poverty Network are funded under the PROGRESS programme. (Source: EC)
The Social Protection Committee (SPC) was established in 2000 in order the serve as a vehicle for cooperative exchange between the European Commission and the Member States of the EU about modernising and improving social protection systems.
Under the mandate given to it by the Council, the Committee should work on the policy challenges related to the following objectives: “to make work pay and provide secure income, to make pensions safe and pension systems sustainable, to promote social inclusion and to ensure high quality and sustainable health care”.
The Committee consists of two representatives appointed by each Member State and two representatives of the Commission. The national delegates of the SPC provide a voice for national governments in the framework of the EU strategy for social inclusion and social protection, and monitor closely the initiatives launched in this process. (Source: EC)
With thanks to www.eapn.eu