Social inclusion

Social inclusion
Introduction & opportunities: 

The Europe 2020 Strategy provides a policy framework from which several relevant European Commission (EC) Communications impacting on the social inclusion agenda are derived.

There are three key targets within the Strategy that have the potential to reduce social (and therefore health) inequalities:

  • to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty or exclusion;
  • to reduce EU average rate of early school leaving below ten per cent;
  • to raise employment rate of the population aged 20-64 to at least 75 per cent.

In 2006, on the basis of the EC Communication ‘Working together, working better; a new framework for the open co-ordination of social protection and inclusion policies in the European Union’; the European Council adopted a new framework for the Open Method of Co-ordination on social protection, health care and long-term care, pensions and social inclusion (Social OMC).

The overarching objectives 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 greater economic growth, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion;
  • good governance, transparency and the involvement of stakeholders in the design, implementation and monitoring of policy.

Indicators are used to monitor the overarching objectives, and are continuously being improved as statistics, data collection and policy needs evolve. In 2008, the Social Protection Committee (SPC) adopted a new list of indicators for the monitoring of the health care and long-term care objectives of the Social OMC, as well as two new health related indicators to be included in the overarching portfolio. In 2009, the Indicators' Sub-Group (ISG) of the Committee adopted indicators on material deprivation, including the EU indicator of severe material deprivation, as well as indicators and context information on housing quality. The Commission recognised that there is not enough data on the social gradient and identifies this problem as a priority in future work.

The Commission’s Communication on Reinforcing the OMC on Social Protection and Social Inclusion is also part of another Communication ‘Renewed social agenda: Opportunities, access and solidarity in 21st century Europe’ which earmarked children and youth, more and better jobs, the fight against poverty and social exclusion especially inclusion of the elderly as some of the priority areas for action. It also stresses that poor health can put a strain on the sustainability of health and care systems, and highlights that new Commission initiatives should address the need to protect children’s rights and reduce poverty rates in the EU, especially child poverty.

Potential avenues of influence: 

Several platforms, instruments and tools exist to facilitate the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders in social inclusion policies. For example, the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion focuses on the policy objectives set out in the Social Investment Package. The Social OMC and its key elements as well as the peer reviews, also enable close co-operation among the different stakeholders, including social partners and civil society. There are also regular discussions between a wider set of stakeholders in specific priority areas, such as active inclusion, child poverty, Roma inclusion, and homelessness. However, opportunities to engage in national-level processes feeding in to EU policy frameworks are fairly limited.