Passive measures (e.g. unemployment benefits) are regulated in most countries at national level, while activation measures (e.g. requalification training) are usually regulated locally. However, both passive and active measures can be local, regional and/or national. Federal countries such as Germany and Austria, but also countries with an important role of Regional administrations, such as Italy and Spain, have their intermediate levels playing an important role in designing and implementing active measures.( Colini 2017).
According to the report country specific recommendation 2017, Member States with high unemployment spend relatively small shares of their GDP on labour market services and active measures (notably Bulgaria, Slovakia, Cyprus, Croatia and Greece). At the same time they can have comparatively high spending on passive measures such as unemployment benefits (as in the case of Spain see the figure below showing “Expenditure on labour market services, active and passive measures (% of GDP; left-hand side) and unemployment rates (right-hand side) by Member State, 2014” source : Ibid. )
The success of any different approach on active policies does not depend only on the amount of expenditure, but most importantly on the design of the measures and the way they are implemented. Member States have adopted different approaches and tools for active policies. The comparison of design and implementation among Member State is a challenging exercise for scholars in welfare policies. In order to understand these varieties, Bredgaard proposes a useful analytical framework distinguishing into three approaches: 1) the supply-side approach, 2) the matching approach and 3) the demand-side approach.
1)The supply-side approach, most popular in Europe, has the objective “to make jobseekers ready to (re)integrate into the ordinary labour market by addressing their (assumed) lack of qualifications or motivation, otherwise known as human capital and work-first approaches” (Bredgaard 2018). This is mostly supported by ESF funds by tools in the field of education and training, job search assistance to improve the qualifications or motivation of jobseekers.
2) The matching approach aims at linking labour supply (jobseekers) and labour demand (employers). The function is to “match” and secure an efficient flow of information among job seekers and employers. The tools adopted foresee the involvement of public and private sectors to re-organise information databases, promote job fairs though outreach and community/neighbourhood based initiatives and work experience programmes.
3) The third policy approach, the demand-side approach, targets “the recruitment practices and personnel policies of employers, and aims at preventing the direct and indirect discrimination of ‘disadvantaged’ jobseekers. […] The demand-side approach may use obligatory instruments (such as quota schemes and anti-discrimination laws) as well as voluntary instruments (such as campaigns and persuasion)”.
Each of these approaches pose challenges highlighted by the disciplinary literature which focus on the individual features of national welfare systems.
 The OECD defines ALMPs as follows: "Active labour market programmes includes all social expenditure (other than education) which is aimed at the improvement of the beneficiaries' prospect of finding gainful employment or to otherwise increase their earnings capacity. This category includes spending on public employment services and administration, labour market training, special programmes for youth when in transition from school to work, labour market programmes to provide or promote employment for unemployed and other persons (excluding young and disabled persons) and special programmes for the disabled."
 ISSUES EMERGING FROM COMBINING ACTIVE AND PASSIVE MEASURES FOR THE LONG TERM UNEMPLOYED – THE DESIGN AND DELIVERY OF SINGLE POINTS OF CONTACT ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=16863&langId=en