Dáil Éireann - Volume 546 - 11 December, 2001
Written Answers. - Social Inclusion Measures.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
47. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs his views on the development of Community-agreed and defined key indicators on social inclusion being developed by the Belgian Presidency for approval at the upcoming Laeken Summit; his further views on the Irish input to the development of such social indicators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26253/01]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Following the mandate from the Lisbon European Council in March, 2000, member states and the Commission have sought to develop common approaches and compatibility in regard to indicators. The work is being carried out by the social protection committee and its technical subgroup on indicators. The subgroup met regularly throughout 2001 and has concentrated, initially on improving indicators in the field of poverty and social exclusion.
This follows from the political agreement reached at the European Council in Nice, defining appropriate objectives in the fight against poverty and social exclusion, and inviting member states and the Commission to seek to develop agreed indicators. At Stockholm in March 2001, the European Council gave a mandate to the Council to adopt a set of commonly agreed social inclusion indicators by the end of 2001.
A report with proposals for such a set of indicators from the social protection committee was unanimously approved by the Council for Employment and Social Policy at its meeting on 3 December and it is now being submitted for final approval to the European Council meeting in Laeken on 14 to 15 December.
The work as indicated, has been has been fully supported by the Belgian Presidency. It commissioned a report by eminent academics on “Indicators for Social Inclusion in the European Union”. This report was broadly endorsed at a presidency conference in September and pro vided useful independent corroboration for the work of the social protection committee.
The main purpose of the indicators is to allow member states and the Commission to monitor progress towards the goal set by the European Council of Lisbon of making a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010, to improve the understanding of poverty and social exclusion in the European context and to identify and exchange good practices. In selecting the indicators consideration has been given to all the main areas to be covered and to national differences. The focus was on indicators that address social outcomes rather than the means by which they are achieved. It is also being recognised that a wide variety of indicators are needed to properly assess the multi-dimensional nature of poverty and social exclusion.
These are being prioritised by placing them on three levels. Primary indicators would consist of a restricted number of lead indicators covering the important elements leading to social exclusion. Secondary indicators would support these lead indicators and describe other dimensions of the problem. Both these levels would be commonly agreed and defined and used by all member states. A third level of indicators would be those individual member states use to describe aspects of their own situation, but would not be harmonised at EU level.
Ten primary and eight secondary indicators are being proposed in the social protection committee's report covering broadly levels of income, unemployment, health status and educational attainment.
Further indicators will be developed in the coming years covering other aspects and will include living conditions, access to services, literacy and numeracy, housing and other aspects of health. Progress on their development will be crucially dependent on the relevant data being available in a timely manner.
Ireland has fully participated in this process at all stages. We have brought to it our experience in developing indicators for the national antioverty strategy, particularly in relation to non-monetary indicators which, in complementing monetary indicators, give, in our view, a more balanced and realistic view of the real extent of poverty.
I am also satisfied that the focus on measuring outcomes on an EU – wide basis will enable us to learn much on how to combat poverty and social exclusion more effectively in the years and decades ahead.
Dáil Éireann 546 Written Answers. Social Inclusion Measures.