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EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

4.1 General context

Last update: 28 November 2023

Main challenges to social inclusion


According to Eurostat, the part of young people aged from 15 to 24 years old at risk of poverty or social exclusion was of 26.1% in Belgium in 2015.

In Belgium, the risk of poverty affects more single-parent families (34.2%). The risk of poverty is also quite high for families with 2 parents with at least 3 minors (19.9%) according to the Memento 2014 “Life conditions of children and young people in the French-speaking Community” (Conditions de vie des enfants et des jeunes en Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles).  


In Belgium, the dropout rate regarding young people from 18 to 24 years old has been decreasing for the last 20 years:  18 % in 1992; 14% in 2000; 11 % in 2013. This rate is slightly lower than the European average according to the Memento 2014.

Professionals and young people report that the educational context is perceived as favourable to student’s selection, school segregation and where the support of young people with learning disabilities is not well funded according to the “Inventory of Childhood and Youth in the French-speaking Community” (état des lieux de l’enfance et de la jeunesse en Fédératioon Wallonie-Bruxelles).

Young people (18-24) not in training nor education with a certificate of lower secondary education are 17.7% in the Brussels region and a bit less than 15% in Wallonia according to the Memento 2014.

In 2012 in Belgium, the number of young people (25-29 years old):

  • with low qualifications (at most the certificate of lower secondary education) : 18% ;
  • with medium qualifications (certificate of higher secondary school) : 40 % ;
  • with high qualifications (graduated from High School or University) : 42 %. 

Major differences regarding learning disabilities depending on the educational form (comprehensive school, vocational education, etc.) exist according to the “Inventory of Childhood and Youth in the French-speaking Community” (état des lieux de l’enfance et de la jeunesse en Fédératioon Wallonie-Bruxelles).


In Wallonia, the unemployment rate of young people stays high even if it tends to decrease according to the Forem’s analysis “young Walloons and the labour market” (les jeunes et le marché de l’emploi).

In 2015, the unemployment rate of

  • young Walloons was 32.2 %
  • young people from Brussels was 36.2 % (Eurostat).

According to Eurostat, the percentage of young people living in Belgium “neither in employment, education nor training” amounted to 12.2 % in 2015.

17.5% of NEETS in Brussels and 15.0% in Wallonia. 


Main concepts

The definition of social inclusion and social cohesion used in the French-speaking Community of Belgium are the ones used by the Council of Europe:

Social Inclusion is defined as “the process of promoting the values, relations and institutions that enable all people to participate in social, economic and political life on the basis of equality of rights, equity and dignity”.

Social Cohesion is defined as “the capacity of a society to ensure the well-being of all its members, minimising disparities and avoiding marginalisation. It characterises interdependence between members of society, shared loyalties and solidarity, common identities and sense of belonging to the same community.

Social cohesion mainly incorporates two societal goal dimensions:

  • Degree of disparities, inequalities and social exclusion.  Societies characterised by a higher level of social cohesion have lower levels of it.
  • Degree or strength of social relations, interactions and ties (societies characterised by a higher level of social cohesion have also higher levels of it).

This, however, is an analytical distinction. In real life, different aspects may be related to each other, either positively or negatively”.