Local and Regional Responses To Poverty and Social Exclusion
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Local and Regional Responses To Poverty and Social Exclusion

June 8th 2010

Committee of the Regions – Brussels

In the context of the ‘European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion’, the Committee of the Regions invites local and regional authorities, organisations and EU institutions to exchange good practice and expertise in the fight against poverty and social exclusion at local level. Against the backdrop of increasing unemployment and public deficits, the knowledge on innovative approaches to social problems will become more important for Europe’s regions and cities.

In the European Union, about 80 million or 16% of the population live in poverty. This is of particular concern for local and regional authorities, as they have basic responsibility for framing, funding and carrying out policies designed to guarantee the integration of people who are socially, economically or culturally excluded. Local and regional aspects of the fight against poverty and social exclusion have been subject to recent Opinions of the Committee of the Regions, in particular as regards local aspects and lasting effects of related EU initiatives.

Contributions and debates will focus on these themes:

* Making local social services more accessible to all. Europe is considered to be affected by relative poverty rather that extreme one, as there are still regions where people live with less than 70% of the regional average income of a household. Relative poverty affects vulnerable groups like children, persons with disabilities, ethnic minority groups, elder or unemployed people. They hardly benefit of basic social services such as public subsidized healthcare services, childcare, education for adults and training courses, decent housing, dependency support services, etc. ..

* Preparing people for integration into the labour market. Hitting hard certain regions or cities, the crisis may provoke a long-standing deepening of the disparities between the regions of Europe, thus reducing people’s access to equal opportunities for a better quality of life. Among the most recurrent causes of relative poverty in Europe is unemployment, closely followed by low-paid jobs and insufficient training. One of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy is to achieve an inclusive growth through increasing labour participation and a better match between labour supply and demand.

* Inclusive citizenship in urban and rural areas. Even if Europe has done efforts insofar to eradicate poverty, still 16% of its population is living below the poverty line, unequally distributed in urban and rural areas. Disadvantaged groups may suffer additional problems that prevent them to fully participating in their city or village life. As social, economic, cultural, political, environmental similarities and differences exist between rural and urban communities, fighting against exclusion can be regarded as a very local issue. In response, the Europe 2020 strategy wants to increase territorial cohesion, so that people living either in urban or rural areas can benefit of the same opportunities.


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