This first work seminar of the Secucities Partnerships programme gave the opportunity, during the presentation of each of the partners, to define the study’s framework and priorities as well as an appropriate work methodology. The contents of the exchanges were focused only on the main issues.
I) Presentation of the partners, defining everyone’s role:
The following people were introduced:
DIAZ Francisco Hernandez: Head of Education Projects Section, Valencia, Spain
Dos SANTOS MACEDO Palmira: Member of the Primus Administration Council, a regional development association, Portugal
JACQUIER Claude: Researcher at C.N.R.S., France, taking part as an expert
JAMOTTE Laurence: Assistant to the Permanent Secretary for Prevention Policy, Belgium
MARTINETO Pascale: Head of City Policies, Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur Region, France
MERCENIER Eric: Councillor in charge of policies in large cities, office of the Minister Charles Picquet, Belgium
REY Marie: Project Manager, responsible for regional coordination and the Inter-ministerial City Delegation, France
TOVAR Carmo: Primus Association, Portugal
TSOUROS Agis: Healthy Cities Project Coordinator, World Health Organisation, Denmark, taking part as an expert.
Representatives of the EFUS: Michel Marcus, Executive Director, Clotilde Tascon-Mennetrier, Programme Director, Jean-Paul Buffat, Project Manager, and Katia Daviet, Programme Assistant.
This first work session allowed everyone’s roles to be defined. The programme’s partners bring to the study both their experience as well as analysis of partnership policies in the fight against social exclusion in their countries. The variety of experience amongst the partners (education, security, city policies, health, regional development) responds to the survey’s need of not being limited to the field of security policies.
The experts, Mr Claude Jacquier and Mr Agis Tsouros, have a role within the theory and methodology framework for the work carried out by the group.
It should be noted that this group, which has relatively few partners, could be enlarged with other people involved in the fight against social exclusion.
The Secucities Partnership Programme proposes to study different partnership and contractual schemes in order to develop an integrated and global approach to the fight against social exclusion in Europe .
The aims of this programme are to introduce certain “good practices” for partnership policies which are taking part in the fight against social exclusion. All of the partners have been called up on relatively short notice for the study. It was therefore decided that it would be best to limit the objectives. This was the outcome of the first seminar.
The majority of meetings were dedicated to agreeing to the terms of the programme and what areas it would cover (social exclusion?) as well as national specificities (what fields of social exclusion are covered by partnership policies in the different countries?).
It became immediately clear to the participants that the key words for the study would be “integrated approach”, “contracts and partnerships” and “social exclusion”.
The programme rests on the same assumption as the proposal, which is that policies are transversal and promote an integrated approach, unlike regional policies (C. Jacquier).
The term partnership didn’t appear to raise difficulties in the working definition. In fact, if the question of the difference between contracts and partnerships had been raised during the seminar (Marie Rey), it would be quite easy to answer, even if it would be necessary to understand the how entering a contract is different from a partnership, what we call “partnership practices” in Europe could be explained (e.g. Safer Cities in the UK, society contracts in Belgium, educational contracts in France).
However, with regards to partnerships’ practices, several questions have been raised, such as:
Are political partnerships in the fight against social exclusion not a pretext to reform the state?
Why and when did exclusion first appear as an issue for political partnerships?
Should partnership polices be responsible for problems of exclusion which may be caused by public institutions? (P. Macedo)
When the contracts inevitably call upon local people, do they modify the practices of the former?
Do partnership schemes within the fight against exclusion not lead to a risk of “stigmatisation” of some of the target population? (L. Jamotte)
All of these questions asked during the seminar, even if they are “provocative”, ask whether a partnership or contractual scheme, whilst being political instruments, are not at the same time an effective response to social exclusion (See: Tackling social exclusion in the European Union? The limits to the New Orthodoxy of Local, M. Geddes in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol.24, n.4, December 4th 2000).
There are therefore many conditions which determine whether a partnership scheme will be successful (for example financing, monitoring and evaluation, resident participation) which will need to be determined in order for it to be established whether partnership studies are only likely to be “practical” (E. Mercenier). Studying the effectiveness of partnership schemes with regards to the fight against social exclusion nevertheless remains difficult as these schemes could be considered as “having secondary effects” (M. Marcus) and therefore must be studied in the long term (P.Martineto).
It is the notion of social exclusion which raised the most questions. This can partly be explained by national specificities. The fight against social exclusion doesn’t deal with the same issues in all of the national policies. As a result, the partners have not been able to agree on a definition for this term. It will therefore be necessary to find a working definition for social exclusion. In order to achieve this, a definition could be borrowed from European documents, for which the fight against social exclusion notably deals with “measures which guarantee people adequate resources and which promote access to education, training, employment, housing, public services and medical treatment” (extract from the Resolution from the Council of Ministers for Social Affairs during the council meeting on September 29th 1989 concerning the fight against social exclusion).
It could be asked whether some aspects of exclusion encourage policies more in some countries than others (C. Jacquier) and, on the other hand, why some issues are excluded from this policy area (F.H. Diaz referring to the issue of violence in schools in Spain, which is not, according to him, recognised by society).
III) The adopted Approach/The Work Method:
The debates that took place on the programme were followed by the launch of an approach (how to tackle the issue) and a work methodology.
The Secucities Partnerships Study offers five “entrées”:
The global approach
The regional approach
According to Claude Jacquier, these “entrées” should be tackled in the following order:
What project in this area?
Who are the potential partners for this project?
What contractual or partnership scheme should be put into place?
Does this partnership or contract promote a global approach in the fight against social exclusion?
This led to the question of how in a given area the partnership strategy allows a project to be rethought and potentially for a global approach to be promoted. This approach allowed the partners to be able to understand the study.
More definitively, the work method will be as follows (proposal by Agis Tsouros):
Contractual or partnership policies
Questions: What approaches? What indicators?
Creation of a bibliography/case study:
Scientific evidence / Analysis of any writings on the subject
Analysis of contracts: study of the political and administrational context in the framework of which the studied contract is put / Study of the contract through predetermined analytical criteria.
Determining the link between the studied partnership scheme and the fight against social exclusion
Although working on defining the terms of the study caused a lot of debate, it must be continued with. One of the difficulties with the study prior to the analysis is the creation of an operational definition of the partnership against social exclusion, which will allow choices to be made within the case studies. The group could link this to other work carried out within European programmes.
The methodology adopted by the group, notably its study of national political and administrational contexts, could allow responses in terms of national polices for international issues to be studied (P.Macedo).
The final objective remains identifying good partnership practices and understanding and analysing why they work well (C. Jacquier).
* * *
A second seminar, of which the date and location have not yet been arranged, will allow the partners to continue with their work. It has been agreed that the main aims of this meeting will be to:
Continue with the working definitions
Make a bibliography available on the issue
Present concrete examples of partnership or contractual practices within the fight against social exclusion (these examples could come from the experience of the project’s partners).
This meeting will be organised by the EFUS project manager with help from the partners and experts, so that the seminar can progress smoothly.
 You will find an annex of the same name as the programme as well as the European Forum for Urban Safety’s proposition.