Although ‘inclusive growth’ is one of the pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy, the social dimension of the strategy has lost momentum with the financial crisis and the ensuing priority given to macroeconomic stabilisation policies.
Meanwhile, inequalities are growing, with unemployment and poverty reaching new records – particularly in the peripheral regions of the EU. In 2013 the Commission launched a major endeavour to rebalance economic and social progress with the Social Investment Package (SIP). Our ambition is to elaborate the philosophical as well as the institutional and empirical underpinnings of the SIP based on social investment in human rights and (individual and collective) capabilities.
Our consortium is embedded in the network ‘Alliances to fight poverty’. We will actively involve European citizens severely affected by the crisis in designing a more powerful and effective social investment agenda based on the knowledge of scientists, practitioners and vulnerable people alike.
This overall objective translates into specific objectives, each worked out in a dedicated work package (WP) as follows:
- Developing innovative methodological tools for participative research with mixed teams composed of researchers, workers from civil society organisations and trade unions, professionals, and vulnerable people in order to gain comprehensive knowledge on social policy issues (WP2);
- diagnosing through participatory research the social damage of the crisis in terms of human rights erosion, social (dis)investment, loss of (collective) capabilities (WP3)
- analysing the relationships between the rise of the precariat, poverty, and social exclusion, the decline of social cohesion and trust, and the threats to democracy and solidarity in the EU (WP3);
- developing a theoretical model of social investment focusing on the effective promotion of human rights and capabilities (WP4);
- applying the social investment model to active labour market policies and social protection: evaluating recent policy reforms and assessing ex‐ante potential policy innovations by combining qualitative and quantitative analyses (WP5);
- applying the social investment model to public intervention in five selected basic service markets: water supply, housing, early childhood education, health care and financial services by combining qualitative and quantitative analyses (WP6);
- analysing the macro‐level boundary conditions for successfully implementing the SIP (WP7);
- building capacity for the promotion of the European social investment agenda in civil society organisations (including trade unions) through networking, policy recommendations, and dissemination of research findings (WP8).