The question of social inclusion, affecting economic, social, cultural and political concerns, encompasses all actions that aim to improve the integration of individuals in social systems.
The means of action in this field are varied, and implemented differently depending on the Member State concerned:
- access to infrastructure and social services
- the system of redistribution for reducing poverty (of which social exclusion is one of the consequences)
- recognition of unpaid work
- reduction of long-term unemployment
- equal opportunities for all people and communities
- literacy and education, etc.
Social policy - as well as economic, social and territorial cohesion - is a shared competence between the European Union and the Member States. Today, action for social inclusion is primarily supported by national policies, even if the European Union provides the framework1.
Indeed, social inclusion is recognised as a priority by the European Union within the "inclusive growth" pillar – one of three in the Europe 2020 Strategy. The EU is currently seeking to strengthen policies for combating social exclusion and poverty.
European cohesion policy supports the members of the European Union in the reduction of economic and social disparities with the European funds: the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund.
For the 2014-2020 period, the territorial cooperation programmes can finance action in this field under thematic objective No. 9 "Promoting social inclusion and fighting against poverty." Accordingly, the Regulation for 2014-2020 Territorial Cooperation provides for ERDF support in the context of cross-border cooperation: the integration of cross-border labour markets (taking into account cross-border mobility), joint local initiatives for employment and joint training, as well as promoting equality between men and women, equal opportunities and social inclusion across borders, etc.
1. The open method of coordination in the field of social policy (see article 160 TEU) allows the European Union to provide a framework for designing national strategies and for the coordination of policies between the Member States of the EU in the fields of poverty and social exclusion, healthcare, and long-term care, and pensions.
Photo: Crèche transfrontalière sur le territoire de l'Eurodistrict Regio Pamina.