The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe

The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe

Comparing Austria, Germany, Greece, Portugal and the UK

Edited by Eleni Apospori and Jane Millar

Issues of poverty and social exclusion are high on the European policy agenda. The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe reports findings from a study funded by the European Commission, using data from the European Community Household Panel, with a multi-dimensional approach to international comparisons of poverty and social exclusion. The research, building upon that of the preceding book – Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe – compares four groups who are anticipated to be at particular risk of poverty and social exclusion; young adults, lone parents, the sick or disabled, and those retired from employment.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Sue Middleton, Matt Barnes and Jane Millar

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, sociology and sociological theory


: the dynamic analysis of poverty and social exclusion Sue Middleton, Matt Barnes and Jane Millar Poverty and social exclusion have never been higher on the agenda of the European Union (EU). At the conclusion of the European Summit held in Lisbon in March 2000, the European Council stated that ‘steps must be taken to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by setting adequate targets to be agreed by the Council by the end of the year’. Following the Summit and the European Council in Nice in November 2000, each member state was required to draw up biannual National Implementation Plans for Social Inclusion, including specific indicators and monitoring mechanisms capable of measuring progress. The first set of plans were delivered to the Commission in May 2001 and have been summarized in the European Commission report, Joint Report on Social Inclusion, this being the ‘first time that the European Union endorses a policy document on poverty and social exclusion’ (European Commission, 2002, p. 9). This represents a significant shift in policy emphasis. Prior to the Lisbon Summit of March 2000, the focus of EU concern was unemployment, and particularly long-term unemployment, as the manifestation of poverty and social exclusion with which policy should concern itself. The Lisbon summit, which emphasized the role of social policy, alongside employment and economic policies, in combating poverty and social exclusion, refocused the European policy agenda, recognizing the multi-dimensionality of poverty and social exclusion. While unemployment remains a central concern, policy...