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International Partnerships

Social protection

Social protection is designed to protect individuals and their families and ensure they can meet their basic needs throughout their lives. It is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, addressed in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 (no poverty) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and will be instrumental in making progress towards many of the other goals including:

  • Ending hunger (SDG 2)
  • Ensuring good health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Achieving gender equality (SDG 5)
  • Reducing inequalities (SDG 10).

Social protection systems help build a country's resilience and capacity to respond to crises. As part of a comprehensive framework, social protection can help manage disasters in a more predictable and sustainable way, and can be extremely effective in situations of extreme fragility and protracted crises, providing support to affected populations and victims of forced displacement.

However, an estimated 71% of the world’s population lack any or adequate social protection coverage (ILO, World social protection report, 2017). Effective coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa may be as low as 1% of the population.

Midwife providing a young mother and her newborn with essential health services in Ayeyarwady Region

Our approach

The European Consensus for Development enshrines the commitment from both the EU and its Member States to promote "adequate and sustainable social protection". The EU therefore promotes a basic level of social protection as a right for all, and especially for children, vulnerable persons in active working age and the elderly.

A major obstacle to building effective social protection systems is the lack of dedicated resources. The EU therefore supports economic transformation and policies that mobilise resources, especially from domestic sources, to generate stable and sufficient revenues for social protection.


The EU Expertise on Social Protection, Labour and Employment, SOCIEUX+, is a demand-driven technical assistance facility which supports the creation of inclusive social protection systems and employment and labour policies.

The SOCIEUX+ areas of intervention include all social protection, labour and employment dimensions, including:

  • social insurance: contributory pensions, health, accident, unemployment protection
  • social assistance: cash transfers and allowances programmes, income guarantee schemes, old age benefits, child and disability grants, public works, social services
  • labour policy and law, active labour market policies, information systems, decent work, workers, informal economy, working conditions, labour relations, labour standards, social dialogue
  • employment policy, security and services, vocational education and training, and skills development

Improving synergies between Social Protection and Public Finance Management Programme

The European Union, in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), UNICEF and the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors, is implementing a €22.9 million thematic flagship programme aimed at strengthening social protection systems and ensuring sustainable financing while improving public finance management.

Social protection is indispensable for achieving inclusive and sustainable growth, eliminating poverty and reducing inequality, and alleviating shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social Protection and Public Finance Management logo

The programme includes two main approaches:

  1. Under Approach 1 eight countries (Angola, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Paraguay, Senegal, and Uganda) to receive in-depth and long-term support to build and strengthen their social protection systems;
  2. Under Approach 2 additional countries to receive on-demand technical advisory services to strengthen and expand their social protection systems. Right after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, at the beginning of 2020, a short-term facility in response to the socio-economic impact was included.
  3. Additionally, the programme generates and disseminates knowledge on best practices in designing social protection schemes at regional and global levels.

Find out more on the programme website and watch the programme video.