Ideas, Actors and Impact
Edited by Rune Ervik, Nanna Kildal and Even Nilssen
Chapter 4: Combating Social Exclusion in the European Union
Even Nilssen INTRODUCTION Historically social policy has been covered by the principle of subsidiarity and has thus been a national responsibility within the EU. This is still the case, but since the late 1980s, questions concerning poverty and social exclusion have gained increasingly more attention at the supranational level. This may be due to the perceived problems of globalization, an ageing population, unemployment and the establishment of the internal market (Trubek and Trubek 2005; Lopez-Santana 2006). The discourse on ‘social exclusion’ originally came to prominence in EU discussion in the late 1980s in preference to the language of ‘poverty’, due to the hostility of some national governments to talking about poverty and to the adoption of the language by the research community to define a research agenda for the analysis and measurement of the multidimensional phenomenon of exclusion (Armstrong 2005). Combating social exclusion became an important goal at the EU level after the Lisbon Council of March 2000, and later that year the new Open Method of Coordination was launched to address this field of social policy. This method differs primarily from the traditional Community method in a lack of binding rules and sanctions in the implementation of policy. OMC is primarily a system of mutual learning based on objectives, guidelines (in some areas), indicators, national action plans, peer reviews and benchmarking. This chapter concentrates on the content of this process in the field of social exclusion, focusing primarily on the Joint Reports from the Commission and the Council. What...
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