At the Lisbon European Council of March 2000, Member States and the European Commission agreed to take steps to “make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010” and fixed the Union's ten year strategic goal of sustained economic growth, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. Fighting poverty and social exclusion is a key element in ensuring that the EU meets this commitment.
Member States since co-ordinate their policies for combating poverty and social exclusion on the basis of a process of policy exchanges and mutual learning known as the 'Open Method of Coordination' (OMC), which had already been used in the employment field. 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 Open Method of Coordination involves:
Agreeing EU-level common objectives (these were revised in 2006 to reflect streamlining)
Developing common indicators to measure progress towards these objectives and ensure comparability
Developing National Reports on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion, which translate these objectives into policies at national level. The National Action Plans on social inclusion (NAP/incl) remain self-standing Plans and make up one of the sections within these reports
Establishing a Community Action Programme, promoting policy cooperation, exchange of good practice and European level mobilisation. This programme will be replaced in 2007 by the PROGRESS Programme (see separate section)
European reports (Joint Reports by the Council and the Commission) documenting the outcomes of the process and highlighting the key challenges ahead.
Each year which falls in-between the main National Strategic Report (known as a ‘light year’), the Commission will identify a key priority theme on which it will focus activities in the Social inclusion field. The theme for social inclusion for 2007 was Child Poverty.
In 2008 the Member States prepared the National Reports on Strategies for social protection and social inclusion 2008-11 which are timed to coincide with the revised Lisbon process of the National Reform Programmes (see Lisbon strategy section). The reports were supposed to based on the new Guidance Note (see background resources).
Strengthening the OMC
3rd July 2008, the Commission published a new Communication on “Reinforcing the OMC on social protection and social inclusion”, as part of the renewed Social Agenda package
The 2008-11 National Strategic Reports on social protection and social inclusion were to be submitted to the Commission by the 15th of September, and at the latest by the 30th September 2008.
Responsible for the OMC Social protection and social inclusion
National level: National Ministries, EU Social Protection Committee member, National independent experts on social inclusion.
European level: Commission: DG EMPL, Unit E2. The officer responsible for writing the Joint Report is Katarina Lindahl.(Katarina.Lindahl@ec.europa.eu) The EAPN contact person in the unit is Peter Lelie (Peter.Lelie@ec.europa.eu), he is also responsible for follow up on governance and strengthening the OMC, Peer Reviews and Independent Expert Reports..
The Commission contact person for Homelessness/Active Inclusion: Michele Calandrino (Michele.Calandrino@ec.europa.eu).
Desk Officers: These officers write the country evaluations for the Strategic Reports on SPSI and often also on the National Reform Programme and Structural Funds. See contact list Background resources and documents
See Europa Website page on the Open Method of Coordination - Commission documents (including objectives, indicators, reports, guidelines, contact lists):
Peer Review: See website to access reports and calendar
.Key Documents in 2008/9
February 2008 Guidance Note for preparing National Strategic reports, supporting document, manual for Gender Mainstreaming and Discussion paper on Disability.
2nd July 2008: Commission Communication on proposals for Reinforcing the OMC
30th September: National Strategic Reports on social protection and social inclusion.
EAPN key positions and past action
EAPN was instrumental in bringing about the agreement in Lisbon in 2000 to set up the OMC on social protection and social inclusion. In arguing for a true European strategy to fight poverty and social exclusion, its main concerns were to achieve a true impact on poverty throughout the EU by promoting better participation, partnership and mainstreaming of social inclusion in all policies.
EAPN’s involvement in the OMC since the outset has been at both national and European level. At European level, this has meant contributing to the various stages in the setting up of the initial social inclusion strategy and later on in the shift to a ‘streamlined’ approach to the OMC on social protection and social inclusion. Influencing the content of the overall objectives in the fight against poverty, the framework of the National Action Plans on social inclusion, the interaction between the OMC and the Lisbon strategy of growth and jobs, contributing to the content of the European reports on the National action Plans and the evaluation of the OMC… these are some of the key actions which the network has taken forward in an effort to improve this process in a way which will more effectively contribute to achieving the goal of poverty eradication.
EAPN has also coordinated the work done at national level by its national networks in engaging in the strategy, particularly in seeking to influence the National Action Plans on social inclusion. EAPN provides information, opportunities for exchange and brings together the insights at national level to better forge the European dimension of the work.
The experience to date shows that the OMC has mainly provided a positive opportunity for Member States to exchange experience and align their policies along commonly agreed, EU-wide objectives, giving prominence to the issue of poverty and exclusion in the European agenda.
EAPN’s key demands with regard to the process include the need to:
Build inclusive societies implementing universal social rights, sharing wealth, combating poverty myths and keeping on the agenda the ambition to eradicate poverty.
Develop Plans, not projects, linked to economic process but not subject to it, Devising stable national planning tools and providing poverty and exclusion impact assessment
Guarantee Participation by developing tools and programmes including indicators, ensuring the involvement of ‘experiential experts’ – people experiencing poverty themselves – and NGOs engaged in the fight against poverty, raising awareness with the general public, stepping up regional and local involvement and providing realistic financial resources.
EAPN key references
November 08: EAPN Report on the National Strategic Reports on social protection and social inclusion: Building Security, Giving Hope
April 08: EAPN proposals for Strengthening the OMC April 2008
EAPN response to the draft Guidance Note on the National Strategies for social protection and social inclusion
April 2008: EAPN has prepared a new Tool Kit on engagement in the NAP Inclusion and the OMC 2008-11, together with its Social Inclusion Working Group:
October 07: EAPN Report on the Progress Reports on the National Strategic Reports on Social Protection and Social Inclusion- 2006: “Light year – Hard Work”
Contact persons in the Secretariat: Amana Ferro + 32 2 226 58 60 firstname.lastname@example.org & Sian Jones + 32 226 58 59 - email@example.com
EAPN Working Group concerned: Employment Working Group, Social Inclusion Working Group
It is up to you! What you can do.
Give EAPN your response to the Minimum Income reports and support lobbying action.
National networks are invited to join EAPN’s campaign for Adequate Minimum Income schemes (see below for more information, or visit http://www.eapn.eu/content/view/45/42/lang,en/ - 1515)
Follow up with your own Governments the implementation at the national level of the Active Inclusion Recommendation.
For information – latest EU policy developments
October 16th, Publication of the Independent Experts synthesis and national reports on minimum income schemes, as follow up on the Active Inclusion Recommendation. ( See Social Inclusion section)
October 14th, Mid-way workshop on Network of Local Authorities' observatories on active inclusion (NLAO). – held in Stockholm on the 14th September, with the participation of EAPN.
Final conference of PROGRESS project: Standard Budgets – an Instrument to Fight and Prevent Over-indebtedness and to Promote Financial Inclusion and Well-being – organized by the ECTS, members of EAPN in Vienna on the 21 and 22nd of November.
29/30 October Peer Review ona new qualification programme for people with reduced income capacity and without income support from the national insurance schemes, ( NO) to be held on the 29/30 October. EAPN Norway and representative from EAPN Brussels will participate.
European Parliament Report on Active Inclusion 05/2008 - The Jean Lambert report on Active Inclusion was adopted in the European Parliament plenary. The European Popular Party (EPP) had tabled an alternative resolution. The main differences from the Jean Lambert report were quite important:
- massive elimination of almost ALL references to anti-discrimination and equal opportunities;
- elimination of Article 137 of the Treaty as legal basis;
- elimination of all references to a framework directive on services of general interest
- elimination of all references to targets and most of references to indicators;
- elimination of most references to carers and social economy;
- elimination of quite a few references to lifelong learning, training and education;
- tendency to cut references to regional development and the role of local authorities;
- replacing “minimum income” with “adequate income support”
- elimination (not always though!) of adjectives such as “coherent”, “integrated”, “:effective”, “affordable”, “accessible”, “realistic” and once even “high-quality”.
The Lambert Report is an important step forward for EAPN, as it backs implementation of adequate minimum income – establishing targets for adequacy at least at the poverty threshold, supports progress towards a framework directive on Services of General Interest and underlines the need to counter negative conditionality.
Please find here the EAPN press release related to this occasion.
Social OMC follow up on the Active Inclusion process
Implementation of the Active Inclusion Recommendation
The Social Protection Committee announced a series of measures for the implementation of the Active Inclusion Recommendation, after its meeting on February 19.
The SPC working group on Active Inclusion will be monitoring the implementation of the Recommendation within the OMC cycle, More on the framework will be discussed at the plenary session of the SPC on 24 April.
The Indicator Sub-group of the SPC has already included in its work programme for 2009 the work on Active Inclusion indicators, covering the three pillars (minimum income, link to the labour market, access to quality services). These indicators will be discussed at the following meetings: 10 Feb: 3rd pillar (access to adequate housing); 31 March: 2nd pillar (Make Work Pay, Labour Market transitions); 28 April: 3rd pillar (access to healthcare); 1 July: 1st pillar (minimum income adequacy)
The first 2009 report of the EU Network of national independent experts on social inclusion will present a review and analysis of minimum income schemes. The report is due in mid-April.
The issue of homelessness and housing exclusion, which is part of the Active Inclusion agenda, has been chosen by the Social Protection Committee as the social inclusion focus theme for 2009 and will be a central theme in the Joint Report 2010.
The partnership agreements with EU-networks have in their work programmes a specific focus on active inclusion.
A study on "Housing exclusion: welfare policies, housing provision and labour markets" was awarded to the University of York. It started on 15 January for the duration of 15 months.
The European Commission will examine, together with the social partners, how they might further develop autonomous initiatives to enhance the synergies with the other policy strands and actors in the active inclusion approach, such as public authorities - including those most active in the field, i.e. often regional and local authorities - service providers and NGOs.
The provisions of the new ESF regulation are useful for the support of active inclusion measures, namely through: a) developing and testing integrated pathways to active social and economic inclusion; b) mainstreaming innovative integration approaches that have a clear advantage over current practices; and c) disseminating and transferring good practice in promoting social inclusion across all Member States.
The European Commission, under PROGRESS, supports the following initiatives:
Network of local authorities' observatories on active inclusion (NLAO). This project has been awarded to EUROCITIES and started on 1 March 2009, with the aim of monitoring and promoting best practices on active inclusion policies, especially in relation to quality services, and of analysing the development and implementation of active inclusion strategies at the local level. The pilot phase will last 18 months and will consist of five observatories (Southampton, Rotterdam, Turku, Prague and Bologna) and will focus on housing support services and social housing and on employment services.
Mutual learning projects (two year duration, to be completed by end 2009). The most relevant ones in relation to active inclusion are: CONNECTIONS Organisational approaches to multiple deprivation; MPHASIS Mutual Progress on Homelessness Information Systems; Standard Budgets – an Instrument to Fight and Prevent Over-indebtedness and to Promote Financial Inclusion and Well-being; Wise Work Integration: Social Enterprises as a Tool for Promoting Inclusion; SYNTHESIS – Health and Social Services Integration for the Most Vulnerable Groups
Peer reviews in area of active inclusion in 2009: Measurement of the impact of anti poverty and active inclusion policies: scoreboard as an example of an evaluation, monitoring and partnership tool – FR; A new qualification programme for people with reduced income capacity and without income support from the national insurance schemes – NO; the city strategy – UK; homelessness measurement – AT; Combining choice, quality and equity in social services – DK; Ensuring a functioning health care system in regions with declining and ageing populations – DE.
The Commission services will also undertake a stocktaking exercise in close cooperation with the OECD, to review the situation in Member States.
EAPN latest action on Active Inclusion
Round Table on Poverty and Social Exclusion (Stockholm, 2009)
This year, Active Inclusion is the overarching focus of the Round Table on Poverty and Social Exclusion, which took place in Stockholm, under the Swedish Presidency, on October 15-16 2009. EAPN formulated input to the conference programme, calling for effective political recommendations that can constitute a strong legacy for 2010. This input can be accessed hereand developed Key Messages which were highlighted during the conference. Many of these messages were underlined in the concluding debates. EAPN is pressing for adequate follow up to the conclusions.
Input to Minimum Income Report. EAPN met with Commission and Independent Expert coordinators to make detailed input to the report, linked to the Adequate Income explainer which is being finalized by the SIWG. The 16 recommendations of the report reflect many of EAPN specific proposals including the need for common criteria and common definition of adequacy at EU level, and a framework Directive.
EAPN provided input to the Mid-Term workshop of the Network of Local Authorities on Active Inclusion in Stockholm on the 14th October. Several networks have been engaged in national debates.
EAPN Norway and Brussels are participating as expert stakeholder in the Peer Review in Norway on the 29/30 October ona new qualification programme for people with reduced income capacity and without income support from the national insurance schemes,
15-16/12/2008 - Council Conclusions were prepared by the Working Group on Social Question of the Council and adopted on at the EPSCO Council. In its proposals to the Round Table and a letter to the EPSCO EAPN pressed Social Ministers for a clear road map to implement the Recommendation, a proposal that was also backed by the Social Platform.
October 08 EAPN presented its Key Messages to the Round Table on the implementation of Active Inclusion – including demands for a Road Map for implementation and lobbied the EPSCO through a letter to the Social Ministers
October 2008 On the eve of the publication of the Commission Active inclusion Resolution EAPN insisted with success that it should still be a Resolution and not down graded to the level of a Recommendation
07/08 EAPN has participated in the drafting of the Social Platform position on Active Inclusion
EAPN held a seminar in Paris on Active Inclusion on the 13 June, in Presence of French Haut Commissaire Martin Hirsch where EAPN principles for Active Inclusion were agreed. The report of this seminar with the principles is available on EAPN website.
Social standards project
2007- The first phase of the Social Standards Project involving EAPN members as well as EAPN(EU) has been finalised. Final report and summary accessible in several languages on www.eapn.ie/standards
Minimum Income Campaign
The Secretariat is in the process of producing a scoping note for the next stage of the Minimum Income Campaign, to run in 2010. This note will be available for comments to the members of the MI contact group towards the end of the month.
On 6-7-8 October, in the framework of a Civil Society Contact group event, EAPN was present at a stand in the European Parliament dedicated to poverty. It was a good opportunity to collect more signatures and to present our campaign and concerns to the new MEPs.
An email update for signatories of the website petition, who have registered to be kept informed, will be devised and sent before the Fall. Regular email updates for this group will follow at regular intervals.
Reminders have been sent to all national networks to keep the Secretariat informed of new signatures they have managed to collect and on the results of the media action.
On July 2nd, EAPN was present at a reunion of the AURORA Plus project (more information here, in German only) in Linz, where we presented the work of EAPN on Active Inclusion, and especially the Minimum Income Campaign.
Signatures: the process of putting together lists of targets and starting collecting signatures form key personalities has already begun, with good results, both in Brussels as well as at the national level.
Internet: the Adequate Minimum Income Website & Facebook cause have been launched: www.adequateincome.euhttp://apps.facebook.com/causes/263061?m=63f2250d&owner_id=2546740 The website will be launched more widely in the last week of May, in conjunction with the media action.
Background documents: The revised version of the “Myths and Realities” paper has been updated by Professor John Veit-Wilson and will be available online next week. The Adequacy Explainer and the MISSOC overview of minimum income schemes across Europe will be ready for the Fall.
The media action week has been set in motion at Brussels level. Contracts have been concluded with the European Voice and EurActive for featuring the campaign, the appeal and main signatories.
A campaign meeting took place in Brussels on March 6th, when partners discussed obstacles, opportunities and ways forward for implementing the campaign at the national level.
All campaign materials as well as more information, can be accessed in the Members’ Room on the EAPN website (http://www.eapn.eu/content/view/45/42/lang,en/ - 1515).
January 2009: The text of the appeal has been finalized. A Contact Group has been set up at the EXCO recommendation. Terms of Reference for the project have been circulated to members of this group. The Campaign is to be discussed, as a fix item, in all EAPN WGs.
November 2008: a media company has been selected for providing the support of a copy writer for drafting the manifesto.
30/05/08 EAPN Executive Committee discussed the next step of the campaign, and agreed on a project of a page of “advertisement” in favor of adequate minimum income schemes in the national news paper. First the Secretariat will support the development of a ‘manifesto’ (briefing note to be circulated for comments early September). Each National Network will seak to have this ‘manifesto’ signed by well known people/organisations/Trade Unions. People who sign this text will be also asked to pay a fee that will pay for the publication of the advertisement).The text will be published with the list of all the signatories. The Adequate minimum income campaign will be articulated with EAPN more general campaign on the eve of the European elections.
On 12 March 2008 a reflection day was organised in Brussels to exchange experience on this first phase and begin to shape a second phase. See report of this meeting as well as evaluation on EAPN website extranet access
March 2008 / A special issue of EAPN Network News devoted to the Campaign has been issued
The aims of this campaign are to:
Promote EAPN, and develop a more campaigning image of our organization.
Raise awareness within EAPN national members and wider circles, of the importance of the issue, of its European dimension and the current windows of opportunity for progress at EU level.
Invite and support EAPN national members to campaign on the issue:
towards the general public by organizing event and/or disseminating campaign material, aiming at impacting on representations
towards policy makers by sending EAPN common manifesto letter to their national policy makers, pressing Member States notably to respond favorably to the second consultation on activation/minimum income.
Strengthen NN capacities to campaign.
At EU level to give visibility to the issue among civil society organization and policy makers and to press EU institutions to adopt an ambitious approach to the issue.
See information on the campaign and directly download campaign material on www.eapn.org.
See also Social Inclusion section for updated information on EU policy developments on Minimum Income.