Concept and approach
The concept of the research was born in the context of the ‘Alliances to Fight Poverty’, a network of civil society organisations, trade unions, policymakers and academics committed to a more inclusive Europe. ‘A more inclusive growth’ is one of the main pillars of the Europe 2020 Strategy. However, following the Euro‐crisis, social objectives seem to have been (temporarily) sacrificed to economic stabilisation as if there were a contradiction between economic and social progress. Critics argue that austerity policies have not only disproportionately hit vulnerable groups, but have indeed exacerbated the crisis and further destabilised European economies.
Moreover, trust in national as well as European institutions has dramatically declined. Responding to this criticism, the Commission has strengthened the social dimension of the EMU and proposed an alternative agenda with the ‘Social Investment Package’ as a way to reconcile economic, and social objectives. However, the SIP shows some weaknesses in vision, power, and funding . The RE‐InVEST research project aims to contribute to a more powerful, feasible and inclusive social investment strategy, focussed on human rights and the strengthening of (individual and collective) capabilities.
Several key building blocks of the social investment strategy will be examined in detail: active labour markets and social protection; basic service markets; and macro‐level conditions.