Efficient and well-targeted social protection and healthcare comprises a set of measures and programmes to mitigate the consequences of socio-economic risks, such as disease, unemployment, advanced age and/or disability. These programmes include various cash benefits (pensions, unemployment benefits, social assistance, etc.) and services (for the elderly, children, families, persons with disabilities, etc.). Under the EU accession process, harmonization in the area of social security is of great importance, based primarily on respect for human rights and the reduction of inequality in society.
The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit takes active part in designing measures for the development and reform of the social protection and healthcare systems, through activities such as: laying down indicators for monitoring social inclusion, mapping social protection services at the local level, proposing reforms in the field of long-term care and social pensions, proposing measures in the area of deprivation of legal competence and the employment of persons with disabilities, etc.
High quality and equitable education provides everyone with the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills, as a precondition for their active participation in society and social inclusion. Of particular importance in Serbia are reforms in the area of inclusive education, providing equal opportunities for the education of all, regardless of their socio-economic status, ethnic background, place of residence, disability, etc.
The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit takes active part in designing reforms and policies in the field of education, particularly aiming to improve the status of vulnerable groups. The Unit activities include: support to drafting regulations and strategic documents, analysis and proposal of measures of additional support to students from vulnerable groups, improvement of educational statistics, support to improving the role of ICT in education, support for drafting and implementing project ideas by partners, etc.
Economic empowerment of every individual, in particular vulnerable population, is an important factor for their social inclusion and active participation in society. Employment and inclusion in the labour market are key preconditions for socio-economic independence and taking responsibility for one’s own living. Economic reforms should ensure that all regions, including rural areas, have equal opportunities for growth and development.
The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit takes active part in promoting an entrepreneurial culture, developing various models of inclusion for vulnerable groups in economic activities, the promotion and development of the social entrepreneurship concept and active inclusion in the labour market. The Unit conducts evidence-based policy impact analyses and promotes policy monitoring and advancement.
The concept of human rights is based on the idea of all human beings enjoying universal rights. The Republic of Serbia has completed the normative framework in the field of human and minority rights. In its strategic documents and policies, the Government has identified the following populations under increased risk of social exclusion and poverty: persons with disabilities, children, youth, women, elderly, members of the Roma national minority, undereducated persons, the unemployed, refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as rural population.
The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit takes active part in developing policies aimed at improving the status of vulnerable population and exercising human and minority rights, through activities such as: analyses of mechanisms and measures at the national and local level, support to drafting the strategic and normative frameworks, support for drafting project ideas by partners, etc.
The European Union commits efforts to improving the status of vulnerable groups in its member states, as well as the states encompassed by the EU enlargement policy. The Europe 2020 Strategy, as an EU flagship strategic document, contains a large number of guidelines for achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, relevant for those countries aiming to become EU member states, yet facing challenges such as poverty and social exclusion. Other European organizations are also engaged in these issues, primarily the Council of Europe through the implementation of the Revised European Social Charter.
For several years the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit has participated in social protection and social inclusion activities under the Open Method of Coordination, coordinating the implementation of the social aspect of the Europe 2020 initiative. In addition, and following the launch of accession negotiations between Serbia and the EU, the Unit are participating in the relevant negotiation groups within the process.