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EU RESEARCH ON SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES — Social Sciences in the European Research Area — for the development of the research agenda

The European Commission’s Research DG set up an Advisory Group on Social Sciences and Humanities and the European Research Area (SSH-ERA) to accompany its implementation of the Sixth Framework Programme for Research (FP6).

The Group comprised 15 top researchers from across the EU and provides advice to the European Commission on the identification of research priorities under FP6’s seventh thematic priority ‘Citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society’ and helped to build bridges between SSH and other thematic priorities. In addition, it helped to define the strategy for building the European Research Area.

The Group has published numerous papers and organised various workshops bringing together leading researchers and policy-makers to identify key issues and priorities for research and explore how it can better contribute to policy-making.

The report contains information about the main scientific findings of action and their policy implications. Its most relevant influence on the decision making process took place on the following topics:

  • a regular critical assessment of the development of FP6 in Social Sciences and Humanities, its thematic priorities, its instruments and its methodology;
  • the identification of the thematic priorities for FP7;
  • a design of the instruments to be combined in FP7, including the role of the ERA-Nets to build a European Research Area;
  • the development on the international dimension and cooperation of Social Sciences and Humanities;
  • the conditions for improving the collaboration with the other thematic priorities;
  • the need for stronger and lasting infrastructures for SSH.

These contributions are now being taken on board in the preparation and development of FP7. Moreover, two other major developments took place regarding Social Sciences and Humanities: its relevant presence in the European Research Council and the doubling of its annual budget if all the FP7 components are taken into account.

Nevertheless, the Advisory Group on Social Sciences and Humanities and the European Research Area remains critical and unsatisfied because the relative status of SSH is still clearly below its potential. This entails many new tasks and initiatives which should involve more largely the European research community in SSH. The Group hopes that new steps forward will be taken in the years to come to make Social Sciences and Humanities a stronger actor in the European Research Area. The publication of this report is seen as a contribution towards keeping this sense of ambition.

6th Framework Programme Research in Social Sciences and Humanities - Projects’ Synopses Catalogue

Within the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (2002-2006), Priority 7 “Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-based Society” aimed to mobilise European research in economic, political, social sciences and humanities in order to develop an understanding of and to address issues related to the emergence of a knowledge-based society as well as to identify and address, on the one hand, new forms of relationships between its citizens and, on the other between its citizens and institutions.

This publication contains the synopses of the projects under this Priority.

They are grouped in eight areas, from which seven within "Knowledgae based society ans social cohesion"

  • Improving generation, distribution and use of knowledge
  • Options and choices for the development of a knowledge-based society
  • Variety of paths towards a knowledge society
  • Citizenship, democracy and new forms of governance
  • Implications of European integration and enlargement
  • New forms of governance
  • Resolution of conflicts and restoration of peace
  • New forms of citizenship and cultural identities
  • And one additional research area of a horizontal nature:
  • Actions to promote the European Research Area in Social Sciences and Humanities and their contribution to the knowledge based society in Europe.

The implementation of this Priority was undertaken through the launching of calls for proposals in 2003 and 2004 and researchers had the possibility of using various types of research instruments.

These calls for proposals have generated high interest from the scientific community, as underlined by the number of proposals submitted: In total 1594 proposals have been submitted to all calls. Based upon the independent evaluation procedures, 169 contracts have been signed:

  • 34 Networks of Excellence (NoE) and Integrated Projects (IP) have been selected in 2003 and 2004. The total EU budget allocated to these instruments currently amounts to €142 Million.
  • As far as Specific Targeted Research Projects (STREP’S) and Coordination Actions (CA) are concerned, 120 projects have been selected for funding since the launch of Priority 7, amounting to a total EU budget of €118.5 Million.
  • The last calls for proposals were also open for Specific Support Actions (SSA) and 15 have been selected for funding, corresponding to a total EU budget of €5.5 Million.

In addition, within the Sixth Framework Programme Priority 8 “Policy support and anticipating scientific and technological needs” (SSP) aimed at financing projects whose main objectives where to support specific policies and related activities. SSP serves the decision-making process through targeted research which responds to the specific needs identified by policy-makers.

This priority is organised around three major research areas:

  • Sustainable management of Europe’s natural resources
  • Providing health, security and opportunity to the people of Europe
  • Underpinning the economic potential and cohesion of a larger and more integrated European Union.

As a result of the SSP calls for proposals published in 2004, 18 projects were approved in areas related to crime, migration and refugee flows, under research area 2, and in areas related to competition policies, sustainable development and trade policies, and improving the quality of European statistics, under research area 3. Synopses of these 18 projects are also included in this catalogue.

Further details on the selected projects under Priority 7 are available at: Web site.

Further information on the overall activities of Priority 8 can be found at: Web site.

None of us knows anything, not even whether we know or do not know, nor do we know whether not knowing and knowing exist, nor in general whether there is anything or not.
Metrodorus of Chios (c. 4th century BCE).