Project Acronym: ENVIPOLCON
Title of Project: Environmental governance in Europe: the impact of international institutions and trade on policy convergence
Coordinator and institution: Professor Cristoph Knill and Department of Politics and Management, University of Konstanz
Funded under: FP5
ENVIPOLCON is the acronym of 'Environmental governance in Europe: the impact of international institutions and trade on policy convergence'. The project was carried out between 2003 and 2006 by University of Konstanz, University of Hamburg, Free University of Berlin (Germany), University of Salzburg (Austria) and Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands). ENVIPOLCON project was supported by the EU, RTD programme 'Improving the human research potential and the socioeconomic knowledge base' (contract no. HPSE-CT-2002-00103).
The purpose of ENVIPOLCON was to investigate a) to what extent a convergence of environmental policies across countries exists and b) towards which direction environmental protection is being developed and if there is an environmental 'race to the top' or a 'race to the bottom'? For the purposes of ENVIPOLCON research, a comparative study of policy development for 40 different environmental policies in 24 OECD countries over a period of 30 years (1970-2000), was carried out.
An overall conclusion of ENVIPOLCON is that environmental policies have generally grown more alike over time, but at the same time they have moved in an 'upward' direction, thus becoming more strict. Hence, a 'race to the bottom' due to regulatory competition - i.e. a lowering of environmental standards by countries as a consequence of engaging in competitive markets, as often predicted in the literature - does not appear to have taken place.
According to ENVIPOLCON's main findings, there are three factors related to globalisation that are considered responsible for the observed convergence of environmental policies:
In order to determine which of these factors explain the convergence better, a statistical analysis of both policy similarity and the direction of policy convergence was carried out. This analysis yielded the following results:
ENVIPOLCON has also recorded a number of findings that have important implications for policy makers.
Project Acronym: EUROSPHERE
Title of Project: Diversity and the European Public Sphere: Towards a Citizens' Europe
Coordinator and institution: Yngve G. Lithman; International Migration and Ethnic Relations Research Unit, University of Bergen (IMER Norway-Bergen)
Funded under: FP6-Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-based Society Project
EUROSPHERE is the acronym for the programme 'Diversity and the European Public Sphere: Towards a Citizens' Europe', which started on 1 February 2007. It is a research project funded by the European Commission, the RTD Directorate, and the Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-based Society thematic area (FP6).
The main objective of EUROSPHERE is to create a comprehensive base of information that could operate as a source of knowledge for policymaking, and also serve as a vital knowledge bank for civil society organisations and scientific communities involved in the articulation of a European public sphere. Towards this objective, EUROSPHERE will examine the factors that weaken the fabric of European democracy, identify any ideas that are able to optimise citizens' involvement in European democratic process, and assess diversified strategies that could strengthen inclusive democratic institutions.
The research plan comprises data collection and analysis activities in 16 European countries and the creation of the Eurosphere Knowledge Base. For these purposes, EUROSPHERE will organize four conferences, two European forums for European stake-holders' institutions and four researcher training/PhD courses. A great number of researchers - approximately 150 - are expected to contribute to the project. The EUROSPHERE partnership consists of 17 European universities from 16 countries, and is coordinated by University of Bergen. Its duration will be from 1 February 2007 to 31 January 2012.
EUROSPHERE's first major event took place in Bergen, from 14 February 2007 to 16 February 2007. All 17 partners and European Commission officials gathered together in an initiatory conference, where they elected the steering committee of the project and discussed the plans for future activities in detail. Participants had the opportunity to exchange views on how EUROSPHERE could develop new ways to analyse and understand the public sphere; they also explored how this ambitious project will deal with the expected conflicts and contestations linked with future attempts to articulate a European public sphere.
According to the project schedule, after this first conference, three more large-scale international conferences will be organised. The second conference will be organised by the University of Bergen (28-30 October 2009), and it will aim to present the theoretical and methodological innovations that will have been achieved in EUROSPHERE. The third conference will be organised by the University of Osnabrück (2-4 August 2010) and its objective is to present the findings of the ongoing research on the social and political actors' contribution to the articulation of the European Public Sphere. The fourth conference will be organised by the University of Bergen in Brussels (26-28 October 2011), where the final results of the project will be presented to the public, to the academic fields and to the end users of the project.
More information on these future conferences will be announced on the EUROSPHERE site, in due course.
Project Acronym: FEMAGE
Title of Project: Needs for female immigrants and their integration in ageing societies
Coordinator and institution: Prof. Charlotte Höhn; Bundesinstitut für Bevölkerungsforschung - Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB, Wiesbaden Germany)
Funded under: FP6-Citizens
'Needs for Female Immigrants and their Integration in Ageing Societies' (FEMAGE) is a pro-ject funded by the European Commission under the Specific Support to Policies-Work Pro-gramme (SSP4) of FP6. The project addresses the challenges of Europe's demographic fu-ture and social cohesion. Its main objective is to provide a knowledge base for relevant policy building at national and European levels by monitoring, tracking and elaborating the viewpoints of native and immigrant women as well as the perceptions of key policy stake-holders. More specifically, this innovative research focuses on the need for effective social integration, and the emancipation of female immigrants in European societies.
The first part of FEMAGE's research explored how European native citizens see foreigners, immigration and integration. Some 21.000 native citizens from 8 European countries, namely the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Slovenia and Finland, have been interviewed, and the FEMAGE project team has recorded the first find-ings of this survey. Respondents answered four critical questions, as follows:
Project Acronym: SPReW
Title of Project: Generational Approach to the Social Patterns of Relation to Work
Coordinator and institution: Patricia Vendramin ; Fondation Travail - Université (FTU), Work & Technology Research Centre - Namur, Belgium
Funded under: FP6-Citizens
SPReW is a two-year research project (June 2006-May 2008), funded under the 6th Framework Programme of the European Union, within priority 7 (Citizens and governance in the knowledge-based society, FP6). Its overall objective is to examine the factors that contribute either to solidarity or to tensions in intergenerational relations, in the specific areas of work and correlated fields. SPReW aims to provide an improved and updated understanding of how diverse generations relate to work, and to analyse the policy challenges and implications of these changes.
The research partnership of SPReW involves researchers from six countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal), and state and inter-state stakeholders (from the French Ministry of Labour and the Social Agency of the European Trade Union Confederation). The first deliverable work package of SPReW consists of a state-of-the-art report that introduces current research on the issue. It includes overviews of relevant literature carried out by each partner, and a cross overview of these contributions. Each team notes the hypotheses, analyses and conclusions that are relevant to the key areas of the project; these are set out below:
In the state-of-the-art report, writers perform the following activities:
This overview of existing research and debates in different European countries is a necessary step when preparing the finalisation of research questions, and the selection of hypotheses; these will be investigated using the empirical approach scheduled within the next work packages of the project.
An electronic version of this report is available at http://www.ftu-namur.org/fichiers/SPREW-D1-web.pdf
On 15 March 2007, the first version of an important new database and set of statistics, the EU KLEMS Growth and Productivity Accounts, was launched at a meeting in Brussels in the presence of the Commissioner responsible for DGs ECFIN and ESTAT, Joaquín Almunia, the Director General of ESTAT, Hervé Carré, and the Deputy Directors General of DG ECFIN, Marco Buti, and DG RTD, Zoran Stancic.
Opening the meeting Hervé Carré underlined the potential that EU KLEMS had to substantially increase the amount of data available to both researchers and policy makers alike on productivity. He confirmed ESTAT's interest in the project and ESTAT's role in bringing the EU KLEMS consortium together with the National Statistical Institutes. He also stressed the importance of this project being carefully followed-up both from the point of view of quality assurance but also and most importantly with regard to finding its place long term in the European Statistical System and thereby avoiding it being just a one-off exercise. Marco Buti then reminded the meeting that the idea for EU KLEMS came from DG ECFIN and was made possible by support from DG RTD under the Scienctific Support for Policies part of FP6. DG ECFIN continues to be very enthusiastic about the project given the potential of the new datasets, with the detailed insights they give, to become a key tool in monitoring the overall success of the revised Lisbon Strategy and thereby to significantly influence the EU structural reform agenda in the next few years.
Commissioner Almunia reiterated his support for EU KLEMS underlining the potential usefulness of the dataset in the Lisbon context through its provision of industry level statistics. The data will provide vital insights into the drivers of the knowledge economy. He emphasised that sensible policy changes are dependent on policy makers gainihg a deeper knowledge of the changes that have occurred at the industry level resulting from the creation of the euro zone and enlargement and globalisation processes. He said that it is important that industry level statistics be of high quality and that it is crucial to obtain better statistics on sectors such as market services. In this context he has asked ESTAT to explore with the NSIs the best way to ensure the maintenance and updting of the EU KLEMS data.
The long awaited EU KLEMS database is the main result of the first stage of a major research project funded under Scientific Support for Policies part of the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. The database includes detailed measures of economic growth, productivity, employment creation and capital formation at the industry level for European Union member states, Japan and the United States from 1970 onwards. This work represents an important new input both for academic research and policy makers on sources of economic performance and on policy evaluation, for example for the assessment of the goals concerning competitiveness and economic growth potential as established by the Lisbon agenda. While the output measures are provided at detailed industry level, the input measures are broken down into various categories of capital (K, including ICT versus non-ICT), labour (L, including skills levels) and a breakdown of energy (E), materials (M) and service (S) inputs. The productivity measures have been developed on the basis of growth accounting techniques.
The EU KLEMS project is being led by Professor Bart Van Ark of the University of Groningen, NL, and Mary O'Mahony of the University of Birmingham and NIESR, UK. The 15 organisations from across the EU involved in the project include leading academic institutions and national economic policy research institutes. The project team has been supported by and interacted heavily with national statistical offices, Eurostat and other services of the Commission, and the OECD. In closing the meeting Zoran Stancic cited EU KLEMS as an example of why there is a need to support and strengthen social and economic research. The EU KLEMS data will open up new opportunities for research work for instance in modeling and on understanding the role of innovation and new technologies in different sectors and in fields such as environment policy. He went to talk about the future, underlining that one theme in FP7 is dedicated to socio-economic and humanities research and that the research undertaken will address economic issues such as the role of knowledge throughout the economy and strucutural changes in the European economy, and that other themes under FP7, such as sustainable development, Europe in the World and Socio-economic Indicators, address economic issues. He ended up by making two points: the first underlining the important contribution that the excellent cooperation between DGs, RTD, ECFIN and ESTAT had made to both the elaboration and implementation of this project, and secondly the help that research can give to policy making.
The first version of the EU KLEMS database is available free of charge via the EU KLEMS website: http://www.euklems.net. For further information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. A second version of the database is scheduled to become available in December.