The strategy titled “Europe 2020: A Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth” is the fundamental document of the current EU strategic framework. The coordination of social inclusion policies among the EU Member States is effected by following the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) at the EU level. This is a voluntary process of political cooperation among the Member States, based on sharing experiences, agreement on the common objectives and indicators facilitating the measurement of the progress made in pursuing the set objectives, as well as policy coordination.
In the European Union, 84 million people, or 17% of the population, were at risk of poverty in 2008, since they lived on income below 60% of the average household income in their respective countries. For this reason, the Europe 2020 strategy envisages, amongst other things, launching a number of new initiatives at the EU level in the area of social policy, such as the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion, adopted in December 2010. Among the priority objectives to be achieved by 2020, a notable one is to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line by 25%. The eradication of child poverty is a common priority of the Member States under the OMC.
The Europe 2020 strategy also defines the guidelines specifically addressing the area of employment: increasing labour market participation and decreasing structural unemployment; developing trained workforce that matches labour market needs, promoting high-quality jobs and lifelong learning; enhancing the performance of the education and training system at all levels, as well as increasing the share of persons with higher education. In the section concerning employment, the Europe 2020 strategy underlines the objective of increasing the employment rate of the population aged 20–64 to at least 75% by 2020.
Education and training policies form the backbone of the Europe 2020 strategy for reviving the European economy in the next decade. The common objectives and indicators for monitoring the progress in the achievement of these objectives have been defined. The fulfilment of the objectives should also be aided by enhancing education efficiency and improving the outcomes at all levels of education with regard to the key competences. The central topics include improving education system relevance for the labour market by adapting learning outcomes, creating national qualifications frameworks and empowering the present and future labour force to adapt to the new conditions and potential career shifts.
Complementary to the development of the European social model is the process of designing economic and social cohesion policy, aimed at facilitating balanced and harmonious development, primarily through narrowing the social and economic disparities among regions. This is to be achieved by supporting the less developed regions through the European structural and investment funds – the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, as well as the Cohesion Fund.