Evidence suggests that wide inequalities can be detrimental to economic growth and social cohesion. It is clear that inequalities have been rising over the last three decades both in Europe and globally albeit with considerable geographical and temporal variation. The crises and their aftermath have put this rise of inequalities centre stage. A solid evidence base is needed to design and implement policy instruments which sustainably and fairly reverse this trend. A substantial body of research on inequalities, social investment and the welfare state exists and is coming to fruition. This gives rise to a pressing need to reap, synthesise, consolidate, and enhance the impact of existing and emerging research findings and to implement recommendations. A platform needs to be established that can feed the findings into the policy process and fosters an open and pluralistic research-policy dialogue.
This coordination and support action should set up a network comprising the relevant research communities, policy makers, stakeholder representatives, non-governmental organisations, and possibly also social partners and local authorities, and ensuring broad geographical coverage. The network should draw inspiration from (emerging) theories of justice which connect with and reflect European values as well as the Pillar of Social Rights. It should take stock of data and of attitudes on the scale of accepted and acceptable inequalities, in relation to a range of dimensions such as income and wealth, education, health as well as the welfare state whereby gender and demographic aspects should be taken into account.
The network should assemble a comprehensive survey of the state of the art, including currently running research on inequalities conducted at EU and Member State level, duly taking into account historical dimensions. It should also consolidate comparative data sets on various dimensions of inequalities and, to the extent necessary, generate new data. Proposals should consider the repercussions of rising levels of socio-economic inequalities for democracy, governance and legitimacy. Particular attention should be paid to the young, immigrants and ethnic minorities whereby inequalities in education and health should be considered.
The network should also investigate under which conditions economic, social and cultural inequalities translate into political inequalities generally and whether and how this correlation is aggravated at EU level in comparison to Member State level. Conversely, research should ascertain under what conditions marginalised sectors of society can get their voices heard. A central question is to what extent political inequality is driven by institutional or more fundamental social and economic structures. The role of social security, social investment and welfare policies as well as broader taxation based redistribution in tackling and reversing inequalities should be examined in a context of changing labour relations, job quality and security as well as the content of work. Also, the impact of technological transformation on labour markets and inequalities should be considered. Living condition, spatial justice and territorial cohesion are key concerns as are the effectiveness and equitability of tax regimes as well as tax practices behaviour including tax avoidance and optimisation.
The network should also synthesise and evaluate the research conducted under the DIAL ERA-Net Dynamics of Inequalities across the Life Course on how inequalities evolve across the life-course where a particular focus should lie on the identification of crucial demographic events which may determine and influence the risk of poverty and exclusion.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 1.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
The action will assemble and synthesise the state of the art of the knowledge base. It will facilitate improved data collection by inter alia drawing on the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) database and other relevant instruments from Eurostat as needed for the design of policies and solutions required to adequately address inequalities. It will garner and formulate policy recommendations which will contribute to improving European outcomes in relation to social cohesion. By mobilising and linking experts and pertinent stakeholders, the action will foster a concrete, specific and structured dialogue between research and policy-makers with a view to reducing inequalities. The network will also propose new research agendas.
Delegation Exception Footnote
This activity directly aimed at supporting the development and implementation of evidence base for R&I policies and supporting various groups of stakeholders is excluded from the delegation to the Research Executive Agency and will be implemented by the Commission services.
- Socio-economic science and humanities