Combining economic, social and environmental objectives in a European perspective

April 2010

The future of farming in changing rural economies

New research indicates that the number of EU farms will continue to decline in the next decade. It suggests that the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will have to re-specify its objectives, consider regional or farm differences and improve the evaluation of policy impacts in order to continue to support farmers and benefit society as a whole. This major survey of European farm-households indicates that the intention to continue farming is dependent on the CAP and that, without the CAP, the number of farmers abandoning the agricultural sector could double....more

May 2010

Getting to the heart of Corporate Social Responsibility

The term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a buzzword in the business world. However its practical meaning and application are sometimes unclear. The RESPONSE project researched 20 companies and many more stakeholder organisations to investigate CSR and, on the basis of the results, proposed an extension of the EU definition of CSR and stronger measures to encourage its integration into all aspects of business....more

June 2010

Growth intelligence: rethinking regional development

Articulating lessons learned from the financial crisis, the European Union’s Europe 2020 strategy calls for “smart, sustainable, inclusive” growth. With ‘knowledge and innovation’ topping the European Council’s list of resources for boosting competitiveness, policy makers will appreciate the timely suggestions offered by EURODITE, a multinational research project which has spent five years investigating the dynamics of Europe’s knowledge economy from a regional perspective. The project, which presented its final results in Brussels on 6 and 7 May 2010, has yielded a wealth of new information on the subject and produced a set of valuable policy recommendations.....more

July 2010

Social inequality in Central and Eastern Europe: Perception, reality and democracy

A recent study of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries has found that “citizens in less equal societies expect free markets to generate social conflict”. This finding could have significant implications for EU efforts to promote social cohesion. EUREQUAL, an EU-funded research project, led by the University of Oxford, has found that Citizens of CEE countries have experienced profound socio-economic change over the past couple of decades. While this change can be regarded as largely beneficial, in some cases the transition to democracy and a market economy has been accompanied by high levels of social inequality. Just how widespread perceptions of inequality are in post-Communist CEE states has been revealed in a recently concluded three-year study carried out by the EUREQUAL consortium......more

September 2010

Post carbon communities: Linking climate change and energy use

Policy should not assume that people directly link climate change to household energy use, according to new research. The GILDED project’s analysis of five EU countries indicates that the public view climate change as part of a wider concern about sustainability, and individuals believe their own actions can have little impact. Advice on energy use needs to be clear and provide feedback on the impact of collective action.......more

October 2010

Diversity of rural areas: A new typology for rural development policy

Shifts in the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) acknowledge the value of diversity of rural areas. The RUFUS project has created a new classification system to map the diverse combinations of economic, social, and ecological conditions of European rural regions. This could help target rural development policy and provide insight into the need for CAP’s interaction with other policy areas.......more

November 2010

Social cohesion: A complex challenge for diverse policy makers

Promoting social cohesion in Europe is a multifaceted task that cuts across several policy portfolios. In order to develop strategies for tackling this complex challenge, policy makers need to understand the relationship between several key socio-economic factors, such as employment, gender, education, welfare and urban planning.......more

December 2010

Schools: Key role in meeting Europe’s social inclusion objectives

In today’s knowledge society, education can serve as a powerful means of achieving the key objective of the Lisbon Strategy for Europe to become “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.”1 However, at present, many schools in Europe are excluding citizens from educational and social benefits that should be available to all.......more

January 2011

FRIDA: Anchor firms contribute to regional development

How can regional development policy help Europe achieve its goal of “smarter, more sustainable, more inclusive growth”? According to the FRIDA research project, part of the answer lies in understanding the nature of ‘anchor firms’. After studying regional development models in Europe for over two years, the team of researchers concluded that anchor firms and the networks they create constitute ‘key drivers’ of the European Union’s 2020 growth strategy. The ongoing project produced evidence indicating that anchor firms have the capacity to upgrade local economies and thereby contribute to a more dynamic economy in Europe overall.......more

February 2011

Managing uncertainty in the labour market – Signposts for the future

Although uncertainty is part-and-parcel of market economies there is a range of governance mechanisms to manage it. These are becoming more important in the light of the recent economic crisis. The GUSTO research project is studying the relationship between flexibility and security in labour markets and social policy during these uncertain times. Unlike previous research in this area, it does not just focus on industrial relations and human resources, but considers a wide range of policy areas such as immigration, welfare and sustainability.......more

March 2011

Shrinking cities: Implications for urban policy

Much has been said about the world’s growing urban population but many cities are in fact shrinking. This under-researched phenomenon has implications for urban policy. The SHRINK SMART research project is studying several shrinking urban regions in Europe and their governance systems. Its analysis indicates that shrinkage depends on the interplay of three major causes: economic decline, suburbanisation and demographic changes. In turn, these are influenced by contextual factors, such as the political system, regeneration policies and the physical structure of the city.......more

July 2011

Employment and capability development: Take the subsidiarity principle seriously

Is Europe ready to radically overhaul its employment and social policies? If so, policy makers might draw inspiration from the CAPRIGHT research project which explores the relationship between labour markets, employment and welfare regimes. The four-year project has produced a bold catalogue of proposals advocating a new definition of full employment based on a politics of ‘work-and-life capability development’. Here, full employment refers to a situation whereby everybody who wants to work is employed, and where an individual is able to achieve those goals and activities he or she values as accomplishment, both within the workplace and in life more generally.......more

September 2011

Positive thinking: Rural communities can benefit from globalisation

Globalisation is an opportunity for the development of rural areas, according to new research. By tapping into rich environmental resources and promoting ‘eco-economy activities’, such as sustainable forestry, rural communities can become major players in international markets. The DERREG research project recommends practical and financial measures to help businesses connect with international partners as well as to take full advantage of skilled migrant workers. The EU can play a key role in promoting inter-regional learning across Europe and in facilitating social and economic development in rural areas.......more

October 2011

Cultural diversity: An asset to Europe

Cultural diversity is an untapped resource for social development policy in Europe, according to a recent EU-funded research project. Researchers involved with the SUS.DIV project have presented a new policy strategy based on a multidisciplinary understanding of how diversity can promote social and economic growth.....more

November 2011

Diversity reigns across Europe in approaching socio-economic development

European countries show considerable diversity in dealing with socio-economic challenges, according to preliminary results from the ICaTSEM research project. EU Member States have developed different strategies for fostering socio-economic advancement and addressing the challenges of globalisation. Noting that institutional forms mediate the synergies and trade-offs of actors with divergent interests and that this is also true in a globalised world, the project suggests that EU Member States are likely to experience a renewal of institutional diversity moving forward.....more

February 2012

PACT: Shaping a post-carbon world

A global post-carbon society – one that does not rely on fossil fuels - is entirely feasible within the next 40 years, according to the PACT research project. However, the diversity of modern society means there is no unique pathway for getting there. PACT has explored the social and economic consequences of different policy approaches, and clearly highlights the importance of taking action to reduce CO2 emissions sooner rather than later......more

April 2012

PASHMINA: A new generation of tools to visualise global change

In the next few decades, global society is expected to undergo profound changes in all respects, including economics, the environment, trade, energy and transport. But what will those changes be and how well equipped are we to assess their likely impact? The PASHMINA research project is pioneering a new generation of practical tools (e.g. models and indicators) to help policy makers approach these complex questions for Europe in the long term (2030-2050)......more

June 2012

SMILE – Shining a spotlight on European sustainability

A new project looking closely at the way we measure sustainability has identified instances where objectives in different policy areas, such as economic and environmental development, can sometimes work against each other, resulting in a compromise having to be made. In light of its findings, the SMILE research project has produced a set of recommendations for how to improve sustainability targets in Europe.......more

July 2012

A fresh perspective on global trade: The World Input-Output Database

The WIOD research project has developed a new database that sheds light on the global value chains created by world trade. The database is intended to help analysts and policy makers assess the effects of globalisation on trade patterns, environmental pressures and socio-economic development around the world.......more

July 2012

SPREAD – The drive towards sustainable living by 2050

Modern European lifestyles still put too much pressure on natural resources and are unsustainable. The SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 research project has made impressive progress towards building long-lasting bridges between different stakeholders in society – businesses, researchers, policy makers, civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and citizens – to achieve sustainable living across Europe by 2050.......more