Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe (1979-1994)


This page summarises the research on poverty and social exclusion in Europe with which I was in various ways associated during this period. It is therefore more than just a list of my own outputs; but less than a comprehensive bibliography. However, I am not aware of any such bibliography: this page may therefore serve as a useful resource for those interested in the origins of European Union concerns with these issues.

Many key and interesting documents from this period may still be in the personal collections of researchers and civil servants, but there does not seem to be any official European archive. The institutional memory of officials in the European Commission is inevitably patchy due to staff promotions and retirements.

Today new documents may be held in digital archives such as the Cordis website (http://cordis.europa.eu/home_en.html): but as far as I know there is no commitment to add documents from an earlier period. Accordingly, some such documents have been scanned and links provided below.

Overviews of the Period as a Whole and its Lessons

Room, G (1992), ‘Government Against Poverty in the European Community’, in Crouch and Heath (eds) Social Research and Social Reform, Oxford: OUP

Room, G. (2004), 'The International and Comparative Analysis of Social Exclusion' in P. Kennett (ed) The International and Comparative Analysis of Social Exclusion, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Room, G. (2010), 'The Path to Lisbon - The European Anti-Poverty Programmes from the 1970s to the 1990s', Kurswechsel, 3/2010: 9-18

1975-80 First European Programme to Combat Poverty

The first European anti-poverty programme was agreed in December 1975: initially for a period of just three years, but extended for a further two, subject to there being an evaluation of what had been done. The evaluation was the subject of a contact with the ESPOIR research and evaluation unit at the University of Kent, headed by Edward James. I was a Research Fellow there during 1979-80.

E James, G Room et al (1980), Europe Against Poverty: Evaluation Report of the European Programme of Pilot Schemes and Studies to Combat Poverty (with E James et al.), 5 volumes, November, report presented to the European Commission.

Dennett, J., E. James, G. Room and P. Watson (1982), Europe Against Poverty: the European Poverty Programme 1975-80, London: Bedford Square Press

Room, G (1983), ‘The Politics of Evaluation: The European Poverty Programme’, in Journal of Social Policy, Volume 12 Part 2 (April), pp. 145-64

1981-1985 Interregnum

The Commission doubted it could secure the agreement of the Council of Ministers to a second programme, during the period while the Council was digesting the results of the first. The Commission was however authorised to continue various consultative activities and eventually to launch various activities preparatory to a further programme. The design and goals of the eventual second Programme – with its cross-national groupings of action projects around particular policy themes, and a stronger evaluation component – owed much to these preparatory discussions.

Room, G. (1986), Cross-National Innovation in Social Policy, London: Macmillan

Room, G (1984), ‘Learning from Each Other: Social Policy Innovation through Cross-National Action-Research’, Community Development Journal, Vol.19 No. 2 (April), pp. 104-111

1985-89 Second European Programme to Combat Poverty

The second programme was organised around a number of cross-national themes for action-research. From the University of Bath, I coordinated a team of national evaluators, examining the results of the work and the lessons for national policies.

Room, G. (1989), Community Action to Combat Poverty: The Experience of Ninety-One Projects, final evaluation report presented to the European Commission, December

Room, G. (1990), New Poverty in the European Community, London: Macmillan

Room, G. (1993), Anti-Poverty Action-Research in Europe, Bristol: SAUS

Room, G (1989), ‘New Poverty in the European Community’ (with R Lawson and F Laczko), Policy and Politics, Vol 17 No 2, April, pp. 165-176

Room, G (1992), ‘Government Against Poverty in the European Community’, in C Crouch and A Heath (eds), Social Research and Social Reform, Oxford University Press

1990-94 Third European Programme to Combat Poverty

The third programme included a variety of action projects, a number of research studies and an Observatory on National Policies to Combat Social Exclusion. I coordinated the Observatory during 1990-1993 and was succeeded by Diana Robbins. I also acted as coordinator of the research programme during the initial years.

Room, G (1990), ‘Poverty Statistics and European Policy Demands’, in B V S van Praag and R Teekens (eds), Analysing Poverty in the European Community: Policy Issues, Research Options and Data Sources, European Commission, Brussels.

Room, G. (1991), National Policies to Combat Social Exclusion, First Annual Report of the EC Observatory on Policies to Combat Social Exclusion, Brussels: European Commission

Room, G. (1992), National Policies to Combat Social Exclusion, Second Annual Report of the EC Observatory on Policies to Combat Social Exclusion, Brussels: European Commission

Room, G. (1993), Social Services and Social Exclusion in the European Community, report presented to the European Commission (subsequently published by the Commission), Brussels, January

Room, G. (1994), Agencies, Institutions and Programmes: Their Interrelationships and Coordination in Efforts to Combat Social Exclusion, European Commission, Brussels

Robbins, D., (ed) (1994), National Policies to Combat Social Exclusion, Third Annual Report of the European Observatory on Policies to Combat Social Exclusion. Brussels: European Commission.

Room, G. (1995), 'Poverty in Europe: Competing Paradigms of Analysis', Policy and Politics, 23(2): 103-113.

Room, G. (ed) (1995), Beyond the Threshold: The Measurement and Analysis of Social Exclusion. Bristol: Policy Press.


After the Third Programme, there was something of a hiatus, the result of a German challenge to the funding basis of such European initiatives, apart from continuing statistical work by Eurostat. The next milestone was the Lisbon Summit of March 2000, which launched the Lisbon process aimed at making Europe ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustaining economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’.

The chosen method was the ‘Open Method of Coordination’, intended to bring together national and European policies in this effort and spreading good policy and practice. Social inclusion and cohesion moved centre-stage.

My writings on social exclusion during this period included:

Room, G. (1999), 'Social exclusion, solidarity and the challenge of globalisation', International Journal of Social Welfare, 8: 166-174.

Room, G. (2000), 'Trajectories of Social Exclusion: The Wider Context for the Third and First Worlds' in D. Gordon and P. Townsend (ed) Breadline Europe: The Measurement of Poverty, Bristol: Policy Press.

Room, G (2003), ‘Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion’, in E Apospori and J Millar (eds), The Dynamics of Social Exclusion in Europe, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar (with Chris Heady)

Room, G (2004), ‘The International and Comparative Analysis of Social Exclusion’, in P Kennett (ed), Handbook of Comparative Social Policy, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar

My writings on social exclusion and the Lisbon process included:

Room, G, de la Porte, C, Pochet, P (2001), ‘Social benchmarking, policy making and new governance in the EU’, Journal of European Social Policy, 11, 291-307.

Room, G.J. (2005), ‘Policy Benchmarking in the European Union: Indicators and Ambiguities’, Policy Studies, 26, 117-132.

Room, G. (2007), ‘Challenges Facing the EU: Scope for a Coherent Response’, European Societies, 9 (2), 229-244

For an overall account of the Lisbon Social Inclusion process, see Marlier, E., A. B. Atkinson, B. Cantillon and B. Nolan (2007), The EU and Social Inclusion