Social Inclusion: Commission Launches Consultation

Article excerpt

In the document submitted to the social partners, the Commission emphasises that this is a key challenge in the context of social cohesion. The level of individuals excluded from the labour market has remained unchanged for as long as European statistics have existed: 16% of the European Union population is still a risk of "financial poverty" (i.e. 72 million people across the 25 member states). Were it not for social security provision, this figure would be higher still (25%). The Commission regards this as evidence of the "good results of social protection systems".

The Commission therefore calls for an "active inclusion" approach, a comprehensive policy mix combining three elements: "a link to the labour market through job opportunities or vocational training"; "income support at a level that is sufficient for people to have a dignified life"; "better access to services that may help remove some of the hurdles encountered by some individuals and their families in entering mainstream society, thereby supporting their re-insertion into employment (through, for instance, counselling, healthcare, child-care, lifelong learning to remedy educational disadvantages, ICT training to help would-be workers, including people with disabilities, take advantage of new technologies and more flexible work arrangements, psychological and social rehabilitation)".

The Commission asks three questions:

- Given the challenge for member states to address social inclusion and in particular the integration of people furthest from the labour market, is there a need for further action at EU level, and if there is, what are the most useful ways by which the EU could complement and support the action at national level?

- Is there any justification for action at EU level, based upon Article 137(1h)? …