The process of social inclusion, established in the European Union (EU) in 2000, is gaining increasing importance. Therefore, the EU has set up a framework for the development of national strategies and policy coordination among member states in areas of poverty and social exclusion.
Europe 2020: a Strategy of Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth is a strategic document defining the development framework of the European Union. The goal of this strategy is knowledge-based economic development preserving the environment, high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The strategy represents an EU response to external and internal challenges during the 2010-2020 period.
One of the three priorities of the Strategy is inclusive growth, involving increased participation in the labour market, combating poverty, and social cohesion, implemented through two programmes, i.e. two flagship initiatives: European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion and New Skills Agenda.
The EU is endeavouring to use new economic and social solutions to mitigate the long-term effects of the 2008 crisis. The EU has started a number of initiatives to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line by 25%, i.e. to lift more than 20 million people from poverty.
With this aim, the European Union has used a Social Investment Package (SIP) to provide guidelines for member states to modernize the social welfare system towards higher social investments. The innovative nature is reflected in the emphasis on the development of the competences and capacities of citizens to be ready to face life risks, instead of fixing consequences. The European Pillar of Social Rights has complemented and expanded existing social rights in the EU acquis.
In addition to policies, instruments, legal regulations and mechanisms for their coordination, the achievement of a balanced and harmonized development requires appropriate funds. The European structural and investment funds, such as the European Social Fund, European Fund for Regional Development and Cohesion Fund have been created with this purpose.