European Union countries are still not giving social inclusion goals a high enough priority, according to a new report based on the work of a network of independent experts.
The report assesses, from a social inclusion perspective, the extent to which EU countries’ National Reform Programmes (NRPs) and – where available – Strategic Social Reports (SSRs) are likely to ensure progress towards the Europe 2020 social inclusion objectives.
- Overall, the 2013 NRPs indicate that 'somewhat more attention' is being given to social inclusion issues than in previous years. But the improvement is only slight and not commensurate with the increasing scale of poverty and social exclusion. In most countries, the NRPs are still dominated by concerns over balancing budgets and increasing competitiveness.
- Developing more inclusive labour markets and breaking the inter-generational transmission of poverty (child poverty) emerge as the key social inclusion challenges that recur most frequently across member states.
- The groups of people at risk of severe poverty and social exclusion that are most often identified by experts are homeless people, the Roma, migrants and people from a migrant background, and disadvantaged children.
- Many experts identify in-work poverty as a significant and increasing problem in many countries. However, only one expert considers that this issue is well addressed in the NRP and SSR, whereas the majority consider that it is not well or not at all addressed.
The report calls on member states to develop comprehensive strategies to promote the inclusion of children; develop and implement integrated, housing-led and preventative homelessness strategies; and make full use of EU structural funds to promote social inclusion.
Source: Hugh Frazer and Eric Marlier, Assessment of Progress Towards the Europe 2020 Social Inclusion Objectives: Main Findings and Suggestions on the Way Forward – A Study of National Policies, Network of Independent Experts on Social Inclusion (European Commission)