The aim of the European Union’s social policy is to promote employment, improve living and working conditions, provide an appropriate level of social protection and develop measures to combat exclusion.
A number of EU Treaties make reference to social policies. The first significant development in European social policy was in 2000 when the Lisbon Strategy and the EU Social Inclusion Strategy agreed the goal “to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty” and established the Open Method of Coordination.
The last EU Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty (2009) contains a “social clause” whereby social issues (promotion of a high level of employment, adequate social protection, fight against social exclusion, etc.) must be taken into account when defining and implementing all policies.
Social policy is also firmly placed in the most recent strategy, Europe 2020 through the headline poverty target. The development and coordination of social policy at EU level is supported by the PROGRESS programme and its sub-programme, the Peer Review in Social Protection and Social Inclusion.
EU Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS Programme)
The EU Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS Programme) is a financial instrument supporting the development and coordination of EU policy in the following five areas:
- Social inclusion and social protection
- Working conditions
- Gender equality
PROGRESS supports policy development work relating to employment, working conditions, gender equality, social inclusion and social protection, non-discrimination and diversity.
PROGRESS’ mission is to financially support EU Member States’ efforts to build a more cohesive society. It promotes the involvement of the relevant stakeholders (including social partners and civil society organisations) in the policy-making process.
PROGRESS works at EU level and complementarily with the European Social fund, which invests in the implementation of employment and social policies in individual Member States, particularly in regions where economic development is lagging behind. As such, while the European Social Fund supports concrete projects at local and national level in the employment and social, PROGRESS is more specifically targeted to policy level projects on an EU-wide scale.
Ultimately, PROGRESS contributes to delivering the aims of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The priority for the Europe 2020 Strategy is social and economic growth which is smart, sustainable and inclusive. The dimension of “inclusive growth”, and its focus on women, young people and older workers in terms of increasing employment and training opportunities, is especially relevant to PROGRESS.
To apply for funding, eligible organisations – including public authorities, educational and research institutions, employers' associations and NGOs – must respond to a European Commission call for tenders or and call for proposals, which are released periodically in accordance with an annual PROGRESS work plan, which sets out funding priorities for the year in question. All applications and decisions on funding under such calls are fully managed centrally by the Commission.
PROGRESS is open to:
- EU countries
- Candidate countries and potential candidate countries
- EFTA/EEA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein)
Social Inclusion Division wishes to advise that a new call for proposals under the Social Protection/Social Inclusion strand of the EU PROGRESS programme has been recently published by the European Commission.
Further details are available on www.socialinclusion.ie.