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Increasing Human Research Potential and
the Socio-Economic Knowledge Base

Improving the socio-economic knowledge base

  
  

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An Illustrative project

57 million people live below the poverty level in the EU; 31 million are dependent on social aid; over 17 million occupy insanitary housing, and 2.7 million are truly homeless. This is the challenge studied for two years by the European project, EUROHOME. The research scientists highlighted the Finnish social system which, over a period of 10 years, has managed to reduce by half the number of those with "no fixed abode", but they also revealed the growing number of young people and women affected by exclusion throughout the continent. The lessons to be learned from this project, which has also carefully explored the best-adapted social policies, offer a number of avenues of action to those holding positions of responsibility in Europe.

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Contact:
improving@ec.europa.eu
Fax: +32-2-299 44 62

Implications for society

A host of urgent issues that are experienced individually and perceived collectively are evoked daily by the media. These include new professions, the informal labour economy and the persistence of unacceptable levels of unemployment, solidarity and equal opportunities, integration of immigrants, the struggle against poverty and exclusion, the right to housing, access to culture, and so on. These issues are common to all countries in Europe. The way those in authority approach - and try to solve - them concerns each citizen, each decision-making level, and each geographical area. However, answers to these questions - which involve the future as much as the present - cannot be given in a hurry. They have to be examined in the light of knowledge, experience, and democratic debate.


Implications for the economy

Unemployment, social exclusion, and insecurity represent not only human misery, but also enormous economic costs. The lack of resources of a considerable sector of the population puts a brake on the dynamism of the market. And it is obvious that the enormous sums spent to palliate these social ills weigh heavily on European competitiveness and dynamism in the global economy.


Implications for Europe

Europe comprises an evident diversity of social and cultural situations, while also facing common challenges and sharing the same democratic principles. Comparison and coordination of the Member States' responses to major social problems are indispensable. This process is based on a solid European tradition of research in social and economic sciences. Transnational synergies should make it possible to identify the causes of these situations, ascertain their statistical reality, and compare best practice. The aim is to produce "decision-support" tools and to propose them to politicians and citizens alike.


Targeted fields of research
  • Social trends, demographics, and structural changes - Interactions between social trends, economic changes, the organisation of the labour market and cultural models; xenophobic and racist phenomena; integration of immigrants; new forms of labour organisation; new types of employment; implications for education and training; etc.;
  • Technology, society and employment - Impact of information and communications technologies (organisation of labour, training); etc.;
  • Governance and citizenship - Analysis of the different types of economic and social regulation, the notion of citizenship, the relation between cultural factors and the development of individual and social values; etc.;
  • New development models fostering growth, employment, and economic and social cohesion - Dynamics of the creation and distribution of wealth; innovations in organisation; new forms of work and employment; etc.
   
  


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