Inclusive societies and development

The EU Social Protection Systems Programme



EU-SPS banner



The European Union Social Protection Systems Programme (EU-SPS) is a new European Union action co-financed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Government of Finland. The OECD’s Development Centre and the Government of Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) manage its implementation.

The EU-SPS supports low- and middle-income countries in building sustainable and inclusive social protection systems. The programme will be implemented from 2015 to 2018 in partnership with national and regional social protection authorities, think-tanks and expert institutions in ten countries.

The programme has three specific objectives:

  1. To develop appropriate methodologies and tools with which to assess the social protection policies, programmes and capacities in ten selected partner countries.
  2. To enhance administrative and technical capacity in the partner countries to support the development of affordable, sustainable and inclusive social protection systems.
  3. To generate evidence-based knowledge for future EU co-operation and for use by other development partners on the effectiveness of social protection in reducing poverty and vulnerability, addressing inequality and promoting social cohesion.


Carte Monde Social Protection Small


Country-driven focus

The EU-SPS will provide overarching support for the development of social protection systems through a combination of:

  • country-driven technical assessments
  • development of country-specific analytical tools
  • capacity strengthening for policy makers and practitioners.

Support may include systemic capacity assessments and development, research and testing of analytical tools that can be used to assess the current status and potential pathways for the social protection system. The programme will work with national research and capacity-development institutions to support policy makers and practitioners.

Work will be closely co-ordinated with inter-ministerial and inter-agency social protection co-operation groups at the country level. At the global level, the EU‑SPS collaborates closely with the Social Protection Inter-Agency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B).

In addition to strengthening co-operation among SPIAC-B members, the programme will facilitate greater involvement by national and sub-regional expert institutions to strengthen national capacities for the planning, analysis and implementation of social protection systems and their core components.

Cross-country evidence

In addition to country-specific work, the EU-SPS will generate cross-country knowledge on social protection with wider applicability across developing countries. This work aims to inform future social protection programming by partner governments, the EU Commission, EU member states and the broader development community. Three broad themes have been identified for the cross-country research, to be conducted jointly:

  • social protection and inclusive growth
  • financing of social protection 
  • social protection and informality.


About us

OECD Development Centre

The OECD Development Centre was established in 1962 as an independent platform for knowledge sharing and policy dialogue between OECD member countries and developing economies, allowing these countries to interact on an equal footing. Today, 27 OECD countries and 24 non-OECD countries are members of the Centre. The Centre draws attention to emerging systemic issues likely to have an impact on global development and more specific development challenges faced by today’s developing and emerging economies. It uses evidence-based analysis and strategic partnerships to help countries formulate innovative policy solutions to the global challenges of development.

Government of Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) with its multidisciplinary personnel of 1 100 people is a nationally and internationally recognised research and development institute on health and social policy. The institution provides scientifically valid information and advice for evidence-based decision making. It works together with and hosts networks of national and international research and capacity development institutes (for instance the IANPHI-network of National Public Health Institutes). THL acts as an expert partner with governments, international organisations and civil society actors, including in development co-operation in the health, social protection and social service sectors.

European Commission

The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union founded in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome. Its Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) is responsible for the EU development policy, aiming primarily at the reduction of poverty in the world. In 2012 the European Commission adopted the Communication on Social Protection in EU Development Cooperation (COM (2012)446). Taking Europe’s own values, that place social inclusion at the heart of the European social model, but not seeking to impose specific models, the approach set out in the Communication supports the development of nationally-owned social protection policies and programmes, including social protection floors. Since the adoption of the Communication, a total of 30 geographical and thematic social protection projects/programmes have been launched with a total value of more than EUR 400 million.

Contact information

OECD Development Centre: Alessandra Heinemann, Coordinator, Social Protection and EU-SPS Co-Director: Management and Research

Government of Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL): Timo Voipio, EU-SPS Co-Director: Implementation Strategy and Partnerships


News about the project

Report of the Workshop on Social Protection Tools and Methodologies (October 2016)

DEV Talk with Nora Lustig on Taxes, Transfers, Inequality and Poverty in Low and Middle Income Countries 

Launch of the Global Partnership on Universal Social Protection at the UN General Assembly (September 2016)

Launch of the Inter-Agency Social Protection Assessments (ISPA) website

“The EU Social Protection Systems Programme – a joint effort towards the SDGs” blog post by Stefano Signore

Kick-off meeting of the EU Social Protection Systems Programme (September 2015)

How to build a national social protection system in 10 easy steps : by Stephen Devereux



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