Reduce inequality within and among countries

It is widely agreed that economic prosperity alone will not achieve social progress. High inequality levels risk leaving much human potential unrealised, damage social cohesion, hinder economic activity and undermine democratic participation, to name just a few examples. Although economists believe that some income inequality is necessary for a market economy to function effectively because it allows for incentives that support investment and growth, an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor is a matter of concern.

EU action complements national governments’ policies on social protection and inclusion. The EU Cohesion Policy covers social inclusion, while fighting poverty and discrimination. The European pillar of social rights promotes equal opportunities, access to the labour market, fair working conditions, adequate and accessible social protection and inclusion. To tackle discrimination arising from racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation and sex, the EU relies on racial and employment equality legislation.

Targets and Indicators

Active inclusion

Active inclusion means enabling every citizen, notably the most disadvantaged, to fully participate in society, including having a job. The Social Investment Package (SIP) stresses the importance of activating and enabling services: a) Job training and search assistance; b) access to basic bank accounts; c) Energy inclusion; d) Adequate income support.The European Social Fund provides support for implementing active inclusion strategies to tackle poverty and social exclusion at national level.

New Cohesion policy (2021-2027) – also see the EBLIDA report

The European Structural and Investment Funds 2021-2027: Funding Opportunities for LibrariesThe European Structural and Investment Funds 2021-2027 report

European Social Fund

The ESF is Europe’s main tool for promoting employment and social inclusion – helping people get a job (or a better job), integrating disadvantaged people into society and ensuring fairer life opportunities for all. It does this by investing in Europe’s people and their skills – employed and jobless, young and old. Every year, the Fund helps some 10 million people into work, or to improve their skills to find work in future. In the short term ESF helps mitigate the consequences of the current economic crisis, especially the rise in unemployment and poverty levels; in the longer term it is part of Europe’s strategy to remodel its economy, creating not just jobs, but an inclusive society.

An EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance

Every day across Europe, many people are harassed, threatened or assaulted verbally or physically, or are victims of crime because of who they are, be it on grounds of their ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities, social status or other characteristics. Hate speech and incitement to hatred and intolerance is also widespread in the public debate, including on online platforms, social media and chats. The High Level Group is intended as a platform to support EU and national efforts in ensuring effective implementation of relevant rules and in setting up effective policies to prevent and combat hate crime and hate speech. This is done by fostering thematic discussions on gaps, challenges and responses, promoting best practice exchange, developing guidance and strengthening cooperation and synergies between key stakeholders.

Economic. Social and cultural rights

The indivisibility of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights is a fundamental tenet of international human rights law, as illustrated by the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(link is external) (1948).

While the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(link is external) provides a comprehensive overview of the various economic, social and cultural rights, it is important to note that these rights are also further described in other conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms against Discrimination against Women(link is external), the Convention on the Rights of the Child(link is external) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(link is external), to cite only a few.

The European Union uses a broad set of financial instruments (Global Public Goods and Challengescivil society organisations and local authoritiesEuropean Instrument for  Democracy and Human Right etc.) in partnership with Member States and many other donors to support actions and projects aimed at promoting and reinforcing economic social and cultural rights worldwide.

EU framework for national Roma integration strategies

The Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority. Out of an estimated 10-12 million in total in Europe, some 6 million live in the EU, and most of them hold the citizenship of an EU country. Many Roma in the EU are victims of prejudice and social exclusion, despite the fact that EU countries have banned discrimination.

EU programme for employment and social innovation (EaSI)

The  (EaSI) programme is a financing instrument at EU level to promote a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. EaSI is managed directly by the European Commission. It supports: a) the modernisation of employment and social policies with the PROGRESS axis; b) job mobility with the EURES axis; c) access to micro-finance and social entrepreneurship with the Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis.

European Agenda on Migration

The European Agenda on Migration has guided the EU’s response to immediate challenges. Our work now focusses on long-term solutions to equip Europe with future-proof means of managing migration responsibly and fairly.

Measures to combat any form of Intolerance (Racism and Xenophobia)

People across the EU continue to be targeted by racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance just because of their race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, social status or other characteristics.

The EU rejects and condemns all forms of racism and intolerance, as they are incompatible with the values and principles upon which the EU is founded.

A broad set of rules exist at the EU level which contribute better tackling different forms and manifestations of racism and intolerance, in particular the Framework Decision on combating certain forms of expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.

Fight against all discriminations – International cooperation and development

As part of its development cooperation, the EU supports the action of anti-discrimination movements, namely the ones focusing on the rights of women, children, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people and other minorities. It also supports initiatives defending the rights of indigenous peoples.

Rights at work

Every EU worker has certain minimum rights relating to:

  • health and safety at work: general rights and obligations, workplaces, work equipment, specific risks and vulnerable workers
  • equal opportunities for women and men: equal treatment at work, pregnancy, maternity leave, parental leave
  • protection against discrimination based on sex, race, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation
  • labour law: part-time work, fixed-term contracts, working hours, employment of young people, informing and consulting employees

Tackling discrimination at work

Laws for equal rights between women and men have existed since the very early days of the European Community.  Since the 1970s a total of 13 pieces of legislation have been adopted with the aim of ensuring that women and men get fair and equal treatment at work.

These laws cover a range of areas including equal treatment when apply for a job, equal treatment at work, protection of pregnant workers and breastfeeding mothers, and rights to maternity leave and parental leave. Millions of women and men across Europe enjoy these rights every day – but few of them know that the European Union is behind these laws!

Entry and residence of non-EU nationals for highly qualified employment

Labour immigration has a key role to play in driving economic development in the long term and in addressing current and future demographic challenges in the EU. The EU is therefore working on a number of interconnected measures which, together, aim to produce flexible admission systems, responsive to the priorities of each EU State, while enabling migrant workers to make full use of their skills. These measures cover the conditions of entry and residence for certain categories of immigrants such as highly qualified workers, seasonal workers and intra-corporate transferees, as well as the establishment of a single work and residence permit.

Europe for Citizens Programme

Europe for Citizens is the EU’s programme for funding projects that: a) help the public understand the EU’s history, values and diversity; b) encourage citizens to participate and engage in democracy at the EU level. Europe for Citizens includes two Strands: 1.    European remembrance — the EU as a peace project (Initiatives, commemorations); 2. Democratic engagement & civic participation — getting citizens involved (Town twinning, Networks of towns, Civil society projects).

Protection of a non-EU national or stateless person

Every single asylum application lodged within EU territory needs to be examined – each EU country must be able to determine if and when it is responsible for handling an asylum claim. The objective of the Dublin Regulation is to ensure quick access to asylum procedures and the examination of an application on the merits by a single, clearly determined Member State.

Standards for the reception of applicants for international protection:

Asylum seekers waiting for a decision on their application must be provided with certain necessities that guarantee them an adequate standard of living. The Reception Conditions Directive aims at ensuring better as well as more harmonized standards of reception conditions throughout the Union. It ensures that applicants have access to housing, food, clothing, health care, education for minors and access to employment under certain conditions.

Family reunification

The Directive on the right to family reunification establishes common rules for exercising the right to family reunification in 25 EU Member States (excluding the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark). It determines the conditions under which family reunification is granted, establishes procedural guarantees and provides rights for the family members concerned.

Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund

Although the movements of persons into, out of and within each EU State vary, our societies share similar migration opportunities and challenges. Adequate, flexible and coherent financial resources are essential for strengthening the area of freedom, security and justice and for developing the common Union policy on asylum and immigration based on solidarity between EU States and towards non-EU countries. In order to promote the efficient management of migration flows and the implementation, strengthening and development of a common Union approach to asylum and immigration, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) has been set up for the period 2014-20, with a total of EUR 3.1 billion for the seven years.

Supporting individual development and integrating those who are socially excluded (from people below the poverty line to immigrants, from minorities to imprisoned people) are at the core of the library’s work. Library efforts take advantage of their proximity to people living in socially sensitive areas or in difficult situations and provide them with access to media and culture, as well as exchange systems for books and other cultural products. In this respect, the implementation of library exceptions to the EU Copyright Directive approved in 2019 is a measure supporting the reduction of inequality in situations of market failure.

In Germany, the BIST programme in Berlin (Bibliotheken im Stadtteil, “Libraries in the City area”) implies a fully-fledged library initiative structured in three clusters:

a) improvement and adaptation of the social infrastructure (construction or renovation and modernisation of libraries);

b) social development of library services in disadvantaged neighbourhoods (intercultural library work, welcome culture, family library);

c) Further development of library services (active services, collection development, new services).

An organisation engaged in reducing inequalities is Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, operating in some 50 countries. One of its flagship projects is the Ideas Box: users have access to a satellite internet connection, digital server, a power generator, 25 tablets and laptops, 6 HD cameras, 1 large HD screen, board games, arts and crafts materials, hardcover and paperback books, and a stage for music and theatre. Each Ideas Box is customized to meet local needs in collaboration with organizations, leaders and members within the community it applies to. In Europe, BsF operates in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and Italy.

The Veria Public Library located in Northern Greece sits at a confluence of numerous ethnic identities that are moving into the region. It offers immigrants from Albania, Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria access to computers to create visual narratives about their lives. These stories are then posted on YouTube, and on a dedicated project website.

[Peter Genovese and Patricia Albanese. Sustainable libraries, Sustainable Services: A Global view. (IFLA 2011, Puerto Rico),]


This Chapter refers to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2021-2027, and in particular to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund+ (ESF).

In order to make the most out of these Funds, first refer to the ESIF managing authorities, which are different in every Member State and are responsible for national operational programmes and policies. The list of national authorities, country after country, and region after region, is available at the following link,

In the Table(s) below, for each ESIF objective: Column 1 designates the ERDF or ESF+ specific objective. Column 2 and 3 set, respectively, the related outputs and results indicated by ESIF official documents. It can be easily inferred that European Commission criteria for evaluation are quite general and do not get into the detail of the programmes. It is up to Member States to set additional criteria for evaluation.

Finally, Column 4 lists examples of library projects set up to pursue ESIF objectives or to attain specific Sustainable Development Goals. ESIF-funded and SDG-oriented library projects are matched with specific ESIF 2021-2027 objectives and sub-objectives; what is shown in the table, however, is a simulation: under which presumed ESIF specific objective could SDG-oriented library projects have been funded, if they were to be presented within the ESIF 2021-2027 framework?

More detailed information on the Library Projects listed in Column 5 can be found in theSustainable Development Goals and Libraries – First European Report.

SDG10- Objective a

SDG10- Objective b

Key trends in “Reduced inequalities” show the following evidence (Eurostat Report, pp. 199 and ss):

  • The income gap between the rich and the poor in the EU remains at a high level;
  • The extent and depth of poverty in the EU remain significant;
  • Economic disparities between EU countries have reduced over time;
  • Despite overall reduction in economic disparities, north–south and west–east divides between EU countries remain;
  • The EU’s different forms of assistance to developing countries have risen over the past decade;
  •  The number of irregular border crossings and asylum applications in the EU has fallen considerably since 2015.


Goal 10’s attainment is monitored through the following main indicators: Source: EU SDG Indicator set 2020:

Goal 10- Indicator set

Library Indicators enabling the evaluation of library performances and how they can match SDG indicators.

A report on Library indicators and SDGs has been released by the ELSA working Group: “Towards the implementation of SDG Indicators in European Libraries”

summarize Related projects on E-PANEMA

The project will use books as a mean to reflect on one of the topics above-mentioned: youth from all the countries involved will be tasked with reading the same book/books, and this will be the opportunity to spark interactive moments and exchanges between them. We will work with young students (age 15 to 19) from at least 4 different European countries. The project will be the opportunity for them to reflect and express their opinions on the topic selected.
The goal of the "For Good Vibes - Read Books" project is to foster a reading culture and promote literacy in Split-Dalmatia County. Through the Mobile Library Service, it provides book access to areas lacking local libraries. Focusing on youth under 25, individuals over 54, and people with disabilities, it aims to popularize reading. By enhancing literature access, the project reduces social exclusion in these groups.
Famalicão Public Library project that consists of the free and disinterested transfer of books that will later be available for exchange for other books, not involving, this initiative, any type of costs, terms or loans.
Project “Librarians as promoters of local democracy, development and resilience” is the supplementary part of the multicomponent EC Programme “EU4Dialogue: improving exchanges across the divide through education and culture” (hereinafter - EU4Dialogue) that supports educational and cultural initiatives fostering an environment of dialogue and people-to-people contacts across the divides in the South Caucasus and the Republic of Moldova.
The objective of the action plan is to make the following digitally accessible by 2023: 3% of the documentary heritage, 32% of artefacts; 60% of both film and photographic heritage and 28% of printed heritage; i.e. about 33% of our entire cultural heritage. The total cost of the project is €9.02 million, of which €8.19 million will come from the planned European Union structural fund investments.
A commitment to combating educational poverty by developing actions aimed at the problem of the digital divide in the 6-13 age group, through the “DigEducati” project.

EU Programmes working with this SDG

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Contact with the proposer of LIBRI - Library Bridges: Promoting the Integration and Inclusion of Third Country Nationals in Europe Through Libraries and Local Partnerships project