Social integration - needed more than ever

The European Council on 11 and 12 December noted once again that “Member States’ policies on social protection and inclusion … have a vital part to play”

On the 17 December the EPSCO Council adopted conclusions on active inclusion with a view to combating poverty more effectively.

The conclusions address inter alia persons excluded from the labour market for a variety of reasons: lack of skills or qualifications, or of the abilities needed to find and keep a job. Unemployment often goes hand in hand with an insecure situation in society, involving poverty, health problems and being unable to find satisfactory accommodation.

Around 16 % of Europeans are faced with a risk of finding themselves in a disadvantaged situation. The present economic crisis makes it all the more urgent for Member States to provide citizens with the resources to live decently. Although strategies will be decided nationally, three principles will guide Member States in their policies for excluded people: a guaranteed minimum wage, help in finding employment and access to good‑quality services.

In particular, financial incentives must be created to motivate and encourage active job-seeking; likewise there must be good working conditions to guarantee decent jobs. In addition, individual attention regarding vocational training, social support and accommodation will focus on the specific needs of the most vulnerable.

For information: 2010 will be the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.

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