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Community programme encouraging cooperation between Member States to combat social exclusion (2002-2006)


The European Union wishes to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty and social exclusion. It has undertaken to reduce significantly, by 2010, the number of people exposed to the risk of poverty. To achieve this objective, the Lisbon European Council in March 2000 adopted an open method of coordination, which sets appropriate objectives at Community level and at the same time implements national action plans suited to the various Member States' circumstances. Under this method, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a programme of Community action for the period 2002-2006 to help the Union and the Member States enhance the effectiveness of their policies in this area. This programme is open to the countries of the EFTA/EEA (European Free Trade Association/European Economic Area), the associated countries of central and eastern Europe, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey.


Decision No 50/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 December 2001 establishing a programme of Community action to encourage cooperation between Member States to combat social exclusion (2002-2006) [See amending acts].


1. This Decision establishes a programme of Community action for the period 2002-2006 which encourages cooperation between Member States in the area of social exclusion.

Objectives and methods

2. In the context of the open method of coordination, this programme supports cooperation which enables the Union and the Member States to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of policies to combat social exclusion.

3. The aims of this cooperation are to improve understanding of social exclusion and poverty, organise exchanges on policies which are implemented and to increase the capacity of actors to address these issues effectively and with innovative approaches.

Community actions

4. With a view to achieving these objectives, certain Community actions may be implemented within a transnational framework. Examples include the analysis and exchange of indicators relating to social exclusion and poverty and the promotion of dialogue between the various actors.

5. The Commission ensures the implementation of the Community actions covered by the programme. It also holds a regular exchange of views and information with non-governmental organisations and the social partners, and promotes active dialogue between all participants in the programme. It is also the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, which takes the necessary measures to ensure that Community actions are successful and that a follow-up is carried out.

6. The programme has a budget of EUR 85.04 million, including technical and administrative expenditure.

7. For measures taken to implement this Decision, the Commission is assisted by a Committee. This Committee cooperates, where necessary, with other committees concerned, such as the Social Protection Committee.

Consistency and complementarity

8. Together with the Member States, the Commission ensures the consistency and complementarity of this programme with other Community, national, regional and local policies. Actions taken in order to combat social exclusion must complement those implemented in the field of employment and the EU's Structural Fund actions, in particular the EQUAL initiative.

9. Following enlargement, the programme to combat social exclusion is open to the 25 EU Member States, the countries of the EFTA/EEA (European Free Trade Association /European Economic Area), the associated countries of central and eastern Europe (Bulgaria and Romania) and Turkey.

10. In its annual summary report to the European Council, the Commission reports on the overall consistency of policies with social cohesion. The programme is evaluated by the Commission by the end of the third year and at the end of the programme, with the assistance of independent experts. It submits a final report on the implementation of the programme, by 31 December 2006, to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.


11. In its Recommendations 92/441/EEC and 92/442/EEC, the Council suggested that Member States recognise and guarantee the basic right of a person to sufficient resources and social assistance to live in a manner compatible with human dignity.
In its Communication of 1 March 2000, " Building an Inclusive Europe ", the Commission proposed giving new impetus to European Union cooperation in the fight against social exclusion and poverty. The Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000 (c10241) incorporated social promotion in the EU's overall strategy for the next ten years and agreed that policies in this area would be based on an open method of coordination.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 50/2002/EC [adoption: codecision COD/2000/0157]15.01.2002-OJ L 10 of 12.01.2002

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 786/2004/EC [adoption: codecision COD/2003/0304]30.04.2004-OJ L 138 of 30.04.2004


Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) [Official Journal L 165 of 03.07.2003].

The aim of this Regulation is to establish a common framework for the systematic production of Community statistics on income and living conditions in order to obtain precise, comparable data for all Member States. One of the fundamental objectives of this Regulation is thus to provide the required data on income and on the level and composition of poverty and exclusion at national and European levels. These data will allow the European Union in particular to combat poverty and social exclusion more effectively.

Last updated: 21.11.2004

See also

For further information please visit the website of the Commission's Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs.

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