The European Active Inclusion strategy
Following a two-stage public consultation in 2006 and 2007, the concept of Active Inclusion was defined in a ‘bottom-up’ way and gained full legitimacy in a 2008 European Commission Recommendation. The concept of active inclusion has been defined as an integrated approach to facilitate the integration into society and employment of people excluded from the labour market. This initiative was later acknowledged by Council Conclusions (2008) and a Resolution by the European Parliament (2009).
Active inclusion is part of the broader social inclusion concept. According to the 2008 European Commission Recommendation active inclusions refers to:
“Including the most disadvantaged people/most excluded from the labour market in society through an integrated strategy of adequate income support, access to labour market and better access to services”.
The European Commission also calls for Active Inclusion strategy to be based on:
- A comprehensive policy design defining the right mix between the three pillars (income support, labour market, social services) with the view to maximise synergies;
- Integrated strategy between the three pillars and coordination between public agencies and social services;
- Policy coordination amongst local, regional, national and EU authorities;
- Active participation of all the relevant actors, including people affected by social exclusion, in the development, implementation and evaluation of active inclusion.
More recently, Active Inclusion is implicitly linked to the Europe 2020 Strategy, the post-2010 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs of the EU. Europe 2020 considers social inclusion as a key factor to ensure inclusive growth by empowering people through high levels of employment, investing in skills, fighting poverty and modernising labour markets, training and social protection systems. Key components of the strategy taking into account social inclusion are the Flagship initiatives for a ‘European Platform against Poverty’ and ‘An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs’, as well as ‘Youth on the Move’ as far as the inclusion of young people is concerned.
Cities for Active Inclusion
In its response to the 2007 consultation on ‘Active Inclusion’, EUROCITIES (the network of major European cities) stressed the need to better involve cities in the EU Social Protection and Social Inclusion process and called for better policy coordination in implementing the active inclusion strategy. Selected through a call for proposals, the Cities for Active Inclusion pilot project was launched in March 2009 as a Network of Local Authority Observatories on Active Inclusion. In line with EUROCITIES’ position on ‘Active Inclusion’, the network's pilot project promoted communication and direct exchanges between local, national and European levels around issues concerning the development and implementation of active inclusion strategies for people furthest away from the labour market. The important role of cities and the EUROCITIES-NLAO project as a tool to feed local level experiences into EU policy-making was recognised by the European Parliament in its resolution on the “Active Inclusion of people excluded from the labour market”. The document highlights the role of cities in monitoring the implementation of active inclusion strategies and calls upon the European Commission and EU Member States to give to the local authority observatories "a strong role in the future policy process".
Following the end of the pilot phase in August 2010 , this initiative is now integrated within Inclusive Cities for Europe, a partnership between the European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) and EUROCITIES, and being referred to as ‘Cities for Active Inclusion’.