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31st August 2012
The Geographies of Homelessness: Homeless Experiences and Homeless Policy in Different Spaces

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2000-2010: The EU strategy on social protection and social inclusion 

Through the EU Strategy on Social Protection and Social Inclusion (also refered to as the "Social Open Method of Coordination"), the European Union coordinates and encourages national actions and policy development to combat poverty and social exclusion on the basis of shared European objectives, a reporting mechanism, agreed indicators and final policy conclusions adopted jointly by the European Commission and the Council of Ministers of the EU.

The Strategy was originally launched in 2001, then reviewed in 2006. The strategy agreed common EU objectives in the areas of social inclusion, pensions, and health and long-term care. The EU common objectives on social inclusion include the objective of "ensuring access for all to the resources, rights and services needed for participation in society, preventing and addressing exclusion, and fighting all forms of discrimination leading to exclusion." This strategy is therefore highly relevant for FEANTSA members, providers of services to homeless people.

Every three years, all 27 EU countries submit national reports on progress made towards meeting these common objectives. The policies and actions outlined in these reports are then used as a basis for targeted exchanges on policies to tackle poverty and social exclusion such as child poverty policies, homeless policies, policies on financial exclusion. The Social Affairs ministers of the 27 EU countries recently renewed their call for concerted EU action on homelessness in March 2009 and again in March 2010 with the adoption of the 2010 Joint Report on social protection and inclusion.

2010-2020: European Platform against Poverty and the adoption of a EU poverty target for 2020

On 17 June 2010, the European Council (i.e. all 27 Heads of state and government) adopted the new Europe 2020 strategy which sets out priorities for the next decade. The European Council confirmed the five EU headline targets which will constitute shared objectives guiding the action of Member States and the Union as regards promoting employment; improving the conditions for innovation, research and development; meeting climate change and energy objectives; improving education levels and promoting social inclusion in particular through the reduction of poverty.

The EU poverty target is defined as the following: “..promoting social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty, by aiming to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and exclusion.” The population is defined as the number of persons who are at risk-of-poverty and exclusion according to three indicators (at-risk-of poverty; material deprivation; jobless household), leaving Member States free to set their national targets on the basis of the most appropriate indicators, taking into account their national circumstances and priorities. The EU poverty target is the first in the history of the European Union, and should help to keep up the EU political momentum on poverty over the next decade. See the European Council conclusions here.

This new political context must enable Europe 2020 to support the conclusions of the 2010 Joint Report on social protection & social inclusion. In March 2010, the European Commission and the Council of ministers jointly adopted this annual Joint Report, which reviews the main trends in social protection and social inclusion across the EU. The Report calls upon Member States to develop integrated homelessness strategies, putting forward elements for effective strategies:

· they have to have clear targets ;
· they should be integrated covering all relevant policy fields ;
· they have to be underpinned by proper governance ;
· they have to be steered by proper data collection ;
· they should have a strong housing dimension ;
· they should take account of changing profiles of the homeless population, and more in particular the impact of migration.


Like other European networks, FEANTSA closely monitors the implementation of this EU strategy. We prepare positions and evaluation reports on homelessness trends, which feed into various EU strategy meetings focusing on homelessness and housing exclusion. This webpage on EU social inclusion is divded into various sections:

-Background information
-EU events
-FEANTSA Policy statements
-FEANTSA European Reports
-Key links



 [01/2008] Glossary of EU terms
In order to facilitate participation of all relevant stakeholders in the EU strategy for social protection and social inclusion, FEANTSA has created a glossary of general social policy terms as well as a specialised glossary on social inclusion terms used in this EU process. See more here.

 [08/2007] New member states joining the EU social inclusion process
This webpage looks at the integration of new countries in the EU social inclusion process after the two recent waves of enlargement in 2004 and 2007 - see more here.



[12/2010] EU Peer Review on the Finnish National Programme to reduce long-term homelessness

On 2-3 December 2010, the European Commission and the Finnish government will host an EU Peer Review with representatives from social affairs ministries of Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, United Kingdom. See more here.

[11/2010] EU Peer Review on "Building a comprehensive and participative strategy on homelessness in Portugal"

On 4-5 November 2010, the European Commission and the Portuguese government will host an EU Peer Review with representatives from social affairs ministries of Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Serbia, Spain, United Kingdom. See more here.

[05/2010] Mutual Progress on Active Inclusion and Homelessness

On the 5th and 6th May 2010, a conference organised by the European Commission examined results of Commission-funded projects across the EU that have implemented initiatives on homelessness and active inclusion, two important themes in the EU Open Method of Coordination for Social Protection and Social Inclusion.  In a speech that closed the Conference, László Andor, European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, stated that homelessness must be a “top priority for the next decade”.  FEANTSA President, René Kneip, spoke on recent progress made at EU level on the issue of homelessness and called for the development of an EU strategy against homelessness.  The FEANTSA Director was the rapporteur for the workshop on homelessness.  His conclusions can be read here.

[10/2009] European Round Table on Social Inclusion of the Swedish Presidency of the EU

One of the key priorities of the Swedish Presidency social inclusion agenda was tackling homelessness and housing exclusion. "A political foundation has been laid at EU level concerning homelessness: in EU Parliament Declaration no. 111, the objective is to eradicate homelessness by 2015. [...] In more and more countries there is an increased awareness and willingness to act, but strategies to tackle homelessness are still relatively new in Europe. See full report of the Swedish Presidency conference.



[9/2012] Europeanisation of homelessness policy: Watch this (OMC) space!
This paper explores the use of soft governance mechanisms in EU policy-making, with a specific focus on mechanisms used in EU social policy (i.e. the social Open Method of Coordination or “Social OMC”) to coordinate homelessness policy. The paper argues that homelessness policy is "Europeanising", leading to the formation of a cross-national policy cluster which requires a specific multi-annual framework within a new generation social OMC.
» Document available in the following languages : 

 [6/2012] National Reform Programmes 201 2 and the Europe2020 poverty target: Investment in homelessness reduction emerging as a priority in the Europe2020 growth strategy
FEANTSA Response to the National Reform Programmes 2012
» Document available in the following languages :  

 [12/2011] How to implement the European Parliament resolution on the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion? Recommendations from the homeless sector
» Document available in the following languages : 

 [12/2011] EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020: Supporting the reduction of poverty and social exclusion through integrated homeless strategies
FEANTSA response to the Cohesion Policy package published by the European Commission on 6 October 2011
» Document available in the following languages :   

[06/2010] Europe 2020: Time for an EU Homelessness Strategy
FEANTSA Response to the Europe 2020 strategy
» Document available in the following languages:   

 [01/2010] Europe will not deliver for people living in extreme poverty
FEANTSA's comments on the EU 2020 strategy
» Document available in the following languages: 

[06/2008]  Letter from FEANTSA to President Barroso
FEANTSA response to the Renewed EU social agenda for the 21st century.
» Document available in the following languages: 

[12/2006]  Policy statements on the Open Method of Coordination
FEANTSA statements related to the OMC can be found on the following webpage. Reports produced in 2007 will also be posted on this webpage. The OMC is the mechanism used to coordinate national social inclusion policies in the framework of the EU strategy on social protection and social inclusion through cooperation between the European Commission, national social affairs administrations, and other European stakeholders. FEANTSA is one of the main European stakeholders in this OMC framework, and provides regular feedback on the functioning of the process.

12/2006]  Policy statements on homelessness/social inclusion at EU level
FEANTSA statements related to social inclusion and homelessness can be found on the following webpage. This includes statements on the NAPs process, on homelessness in the wider EU context, on social inclusion in the general EU Lisbon strategy framework.



 [09/2008]  FEANTSA European reports monitoring national trends on homelessness
These are FEANTSA European reports prepared to feed into various processes of the EU strategy (peer reviews, round tables, conferences, light year, etc), and are based on the expertise/feedback of FEANTSA homeless service providers. See more here.

 [06/2008]  FEANTSA Shadow Peer Reviews
Every year, the European Commission together with the EU Member States organise a series of peer reviews on specific national or local policies in the area of social inclusion. When the policies examined are related to homelessness, FEANTSA conducts a "shadow" peer review amongst its members in order to offer a service provider perspective to the debate.For all information on FEANTSA Shadow peer reviews, please see here.



 Europe 2020 Strategy

 European Council conclusions (June 2010) (with EU poverty target)

Renewed EU social agenda

European Commission

EU Joint reports on social protection and inclusion

European social inclusion networks

Social Protection Committee

National action plans on social inclusion/social protection

European Commission newsletter on social inclusion

Peer Review in Social Protection and Social Inclusion Programme

Network of Independent Experts on Social Inclusion

For more information or questions, please contact Liz Gosme at liz.gosme@feantsa.org