After the burning of French banlieue, the debate on how to avoid ghettos in European cities has become urgent. Of course, politicians and scientists have addressed the problem of social segregation before. As a result, social policies have, for decades, attempted to alleviate the problems of such neighbourhoods in many countries. This article argues that despite the efforts of the European Commission, the “area based approach” has not been accepted as a model with uniformed principles and instruments. As examples in five countries show, the national context dominates welfare policies. Academic research on segregation patterns, moreover, raises serious questions about this approach.
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