Current trends in European societies bring with them opportunities for a more inclusive and united Europe on the one hand and risks and challenges on the other. Large disparities in human and social capacities are counterproductive to a sustainable and creative economy and participatory governance and inclusion. They jeopardise economic growth while threatening the very foundations of democracy, the rule of law and respect of human rights in Europe. These questions have to be analysed from a theoretical perspective and practical solutions to overcome inequalities have to be recommended.
For more inclusive societies to take shape in the medium term, coherent visions will need to be devised on how to foster a social and economic framework that promotes fairness and sustainability in Europe as key policy objectives, while enhancing social dialogue, respecting the continent’s diversity and considering the global context.
The current migration crisis calls for a better European coordination of research on migration and asylum as well as a cross-national comparative research on migration. Two specific Platforms are envisaged in this call. In addition a research action on employability, skills, and labour market integration of migrants will provide new and policy relevant knowledge on this subject.
The rise in inequalities in Europe and other parts of the world comprises hitherto unknown quantitative and qualitative dimensions: in the wake of the financial and economic crisis, highly increased levels of inequality (e.g. income and wealth concentration, gender inequality) can be detected alongside novel types of inequalities (e.g. debt inequality, inequality in access to justice or political life, spatial inequality). Options to reverse inequalities should be evidence-based and suggested at EU level.
These recent trends will need to be fully understood and effectively tackled through comprehensive research and innovation activities. Based on a sound understanding of inequality trends, policies and measures aimed at reversing various kinds of inequalities need to be examined. Different options for policies and measures (e.g. social dialogue, tax policy, new forms of evidence-based education, public service innovation, welfare state reforms, labour market, employment and consumer policies and practices) should be identified and their usefulness be compared. Specific emphasis should be given to the objective of reversing territorial inequalities, equal enjoyment of human rights and the conditions enabling comprehensive urban policies, the mobile provision of social services and an equal access to ICT use.
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