Harnessing cohesion policy to tackle social exclusion: Opportunities and limitations

26-05-2016

This publication aims to examine the measures available to Member States under cohesion policy to help them address poverty and social exclusion. Through detailed references to EU legislation, national programming documents and the views of stakeholders, the paper will discuss the EU-funded action being taken by individual countries to promote social inclusion and identify the limitations of cohesion policy for tackling poverty and social exclusion. Poverty and social exclusion can have a damaging effect on individuals' lives, with its impact on people's health and education often leading to a vicious circle of deprivation. To help break this dangerous cycle of poverty, the Europe 2020 Strategy set a headline target of taking at least 20 million people out of poverty and social exclusion by 2020. The revision of the cohesion policy framework for 2014-2020 has strengthened support for the delivery of the Europe 2020 targets by aligning structural funds more closely to the strategy through thematic concentration, which focuses action on a limited number of targets, helping to optimise the use of EU funds where they can be most effective. Cohesion policy can play a vital role in tackling social exclusion, with structural funds accounting for the majority of the public investment budget in many countries. The Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes prepared by Member States in this context provide valuable insight into countries' plans for delivering social inclusion.

This publication aims to examine the measures available to Member States under cohesion policy to help them address poverty and social exclusion. Through detailed references to EU legislation, national programming documents and the views of stakeholders, the paper will discuss the EU-funded action being taken by individual countries to promote social inclusion and identify the limitations of cohesion policy for tackling poverty and social exclusion. Poverty and social exclusion can have a damaging effect on individuals' lives, with its impact on people's health and education often leading to a vicious circle of deprivation. To help break this dangerous cycle of poverty, the Europe 2020 Strategy set a headline target of taking at least 20 million people out of poverty and social exclusion by 2020. The revision of the cohesion policy framework for 2014-2020 has strengthened support for the delivery of the Europe 2020 targets by aligning structural funds more closely to the strategy through thematic concentration, which focuses action on a limited number of targets, helping to optimise the use of EU funds where they can be most effective. Cohesion policy can play a vital role in tackling social exclusion, with structural funds accounting for the majority of the public investment budget in many countries. The Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes prepared by Member States in this context provide valuable insight into countries' plans for delivering social inclusion.