Well-designed adequate income support schemes can be powerful tools to fight poverty and increase labour market participation, and therefore contribute to reaching the Europe 2020 target of reducing the number of people in poverty and social exclusion by at least 20 million by 2020.
This was the main conclusion of the conference on "Addressing social divergences in European societies: improving minimum income support" organised by the European Commission on 3 April 2014.
The objective of the seminar was to help Member States design adequate income support schemes. This seminar also helps stakeholders to reply to the consultation that will open later this spring following the publication of the Communication "Taking stock of the Europe 2020 Strategy".
Participants and conclusions
The event organised by the European Commission brought together 120 policy-makers and experts representing civil society, employee and employer organisations and the private sector.
After Commissioner Andor's opening remarks, Mr. Vassileios Kegkeroglou, Greek Deputy Minister of Labour, Social Security and Welfare, Mr. Piet Colruyt, Director of the Colruyt Group, and Mr Georgios Dassis, President of the Workers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee, addressed the seminar. This was followed by interactive workshops on a number of topics.
Participants concluded that the main challenges regarding minimum income schemes are ensuring their adequacy, coverage, and their effective linking to activation and enabling services. In fact, activation and income support go hand in hand, and having one without the other may prove inefficient and ineffective.
The seminar also showed that 'one-stop-shops' providing both social services and benefits can simplify and facilitate access to those services while maximising their impact. Innovative information and communication technologies can offer solutions to that effect.
For any queries on this event, please send an email to EMPL-MINIMUM-INCOME@ec.europa.eu.