The EU's welfare states have policies and provisions termed active inclusion measures to assist the poor and unemployed. These include income provisions, labour market policies and access to quality services. Effective active inclusion measures require coordination between social and employment policies. Funded by the EU, the project COPE (Combating poverty in Europe: Re-organising active inclusion through participatory and integrated modes of multilevel governance) examined social inclusion policies designed to protect the long-term unemployed, single parents and the working poor across five European countries. Specifically, COPE studied the active inclusion measures in Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Findings point to serious deficits in the design and implementation of active inclusion measures across all countries. Researchers discovered that while minimum income schemes for working persons have improved in all countries, some countries implement the schemes better than others. For example, Germany and the United Kingdom regulate minimum income at a national level, while Italy, Poland and Sweden regulate it at a local level. COPE found that regulation at a national level in Germany and the United Kingdom provides sufficient protection for all poor. However, the localisation of social regulation in Italy, Poland and Sweden can lead to greater variability in the provision of benefits and services. While minimum income schemes have improved in these countries, COPE noted that most reforms address the long-term unemployed and workless single parents. The working poor, including working but low-income single parents, are greatly overlooked and neglected. COPE suggested these schemes must be reformed by adapting minimum income rights and by improving access to and distribution of social and employment services. On a positive note, a look at social inclusion measures in five post-industrialist cities shows that awareness of issues leads to effective coordination amongst relevant actors. The project noted that Europe's economic crisis has negatively impacted employment and poverty rates, and exposed different countries' inabilities to mitigate the problems. Policy reforms and improved intergovernmental coordination will ensure that help reaches the segments of the population most in need, and as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Policy reform, poor, unemployed, active inclusion, poverty, multilevel governance