Since the creation of the European Social Fund in 1957, structural funds have made a considerable contribution to tackling social exclusion through the EU. This was primarily ensured through the European Social Fund, but also through the ERDF which provided for instance support to infrastructures linked to inclusion.
The new Cohesion Policy for 2007-2013 restates the importance of the social inclusion dimension in the Structural Funds. However, in line with the renewed Lisbon Agenda, the emphasis on jobs, competitiveness and growth hinders a rather holistic approach to socio-economic development which takes seriously into account the root causes of poverty.
EAPN believes that the funds should be instrumental in meeting the objectives of the Social Open Method of Coordination, which implies strengthened focus on the following measures:
- “positive” activation (training, employability, lifelong learning, access to childcare…)
measures allowing wider integration and empowerment of excluded groups (development of soft skills, targeted social services…)
- capacity building for social NGOs (in particular for convergence areas)
- social economy initiatives and inclusive entrepreneurship approaches
- infrastructures linked to social inclusion
To this purpose, EAPN is also committed to raising awareness of the role of inclusion in the debate around the future of cohesion policy; ensure a more socially inclusive monitoring and evaluation of the ESF and increase the coherence between structural funds and the Open Method of Coordination on Social Protection and Social Inclusion.
Interesting links and documents
Social inclusion proofing
EAPN guidance note on Social Inclusion Indicators (February 2008)
Structural funds 2007-2013: what will remain of social innovation and past learning? EAPN comments on the Commission’s communication on programming documents (July 2008)
Presentation on structural funds and the wider EU debate (June 2008)
EAPN briefing note on structural funds and the Lisbon Strategy (January 2008)