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Call: Determining key drivers of inequality trends

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Programme
Acronym HE-CL2-TRANSFORMATIONS
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 2 - Destination 3: Innovative research on social and economic transformations"

Europe is being transformed by changes that impact the livelihoods and wellbeing of its citizens. Such changes present important opportunities for the EU to innovate and shape forward looking inclusive societies and economies, while avoiding the mistakes of the past and promoting an inclusive recovery that strengthens economic and social resilience. However, demographic changes, digitalisation, automation, environmental degradation, the transition to a low carbon economy and globalisation all pose multidimensional, interconnected and complex social and economic challenges. At the same time, there has been an increase in inequality, poverty and social exclusion, a polarisation of skill needs in the labour market, and a slowdown in convergence in income and employment in most European countries. Inequalities threaten social and territorial cohesion, economic growth and wellbeing. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the pervasive inequalities across European societies, with significant differences in the way losses and costs of the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis that followed are distributed in society. To seize the opportunities emerging from socio-economic transformations in a strongly connected and integrated world, these challenges need to be better understood and tackled.

Population ageing increases social protection spending on pensions, health and long-term care and restricts the capacity of the redistributive system to reduce inequality. Societies also need to adapt to a new role elderly people may have, with their experience and capacity to remain productive. Policies need to support a transition towards more environmentally-friendly ways of producing and providing private and public services, while ensuring all regions and individuals equally benefit from these transitions and that no one is left behind, in particular when it comes to access to essential services. Access to social protection for those in need should be ensured, while making sure that everyone can participate in economic, social, political and cultural developments. Social protection supports individuals in emergencies that they can no longer cope with on their own and, in addition, protect them by means of long-term measures – whether in the event of illness, accident, need for care, unemployment or old age. Moreover, mitigation and adaptation strategies are essential to make sure population movements shaped by these transitions are positive for all areas, and do not contribute to deepening the divide between regions or countries.

Education and training are key long-term factors in preventing and reversing inequalities and promoting equal opportunities, inclusion and social mobility. However, the educational outcomes of younger generations are still determined to a large extent by the socio-economic background of their parents rather than by their own potential. Promoting and ensuring inclusion and equity in education and training is thus fundamental in breaking these patterns.

In this context, it is important to reflect on the nature of economic growth and the need to better capture the different dimensions of social progress. It is increasingly important to distinguish between the different purposes of measurement: economic activity, social and cultural wellbeing and sustainability, and to develop relevant indicators. This is particularly the case as the pervasive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the economic performance and socio-economic fabric of many countries in Europe.

Migration has been a critical component of the makeup of European societies, one that is likely to dominate policy and political agendas for many years to come. It is an issue requiring comprehensive and coordinated European responses in order to ripen its benefits, both inside and outside the EU, involving Member States, Associated and partner countries, EU actors, as well as local and regional authorities, civil society organisations, migrants’ representatives – including migrant organisations – and economic and social partners. Partnerships between these stakeholders are needed to make the most of the positive consequences of migration, as well as ensuring that migration occurs in an orderly and dignified manner. The task of research is to better understand migration in a global and EU context, assist in its governance, support security and help the socio-economic as well as civil-political inclusion of migrants in European societies. It can enhance policies by providing evidence on the causes and consequences of the phenomena and facilitate timely response by identifying trends and suggesting possible policy solutions.

The implementation of the research activities in the two calls of this Destination will contribute to a comprehensive and reflective European strategy for inclusive growth, including social, economic, ecological and historical dimensions. This will strengthen the resilience of the EU and of its citizens, and will ensure that no one is left behind, including through the accumulation and preservation of human capital in the face of old and new risks. It will equally support productivity gains and their fair distribution, as well as boosting social and economic resilience that is essential to face situations of crisis such as in the case of COVID-19. Activities will contribute to EU migration and mobility policies, both internal and external. The overall knowledge generated, including a holistic understanding of societal wellbeing, will feed into the design of policy strategies in line with the above mentioned objectives and will facilitate the assessment of policy needs and outcomes in the field of the societal and economic transformations.

The Destination calls for proposals that may help in reaching these key strategic policy objectives in the EU. It invites proposals to do so by integrating feedback loops with stakeholders and policymakers that may help in developing suggestions and recommendations throughout their lifecycles. These proposals should take into consideration the stakeholders associated to the decisions that are suggested, and should also account for the context in which decisions are made. Therefore, in order to maximize and facilitate the uptake of group-sensitive recommendations in policy, they should include analyses of political and financial trade-offs associated to the recommendations produced, reflecting also on contextual changes needed to implement proposals developed. Proposals are also invited to build upon previous research funded by Horizon 2020, valorising its experience and findings.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following targeted expected impacts of the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan:

  • Social and economic resilience and sustainability are strengthened through a better understanding of the social, ethical, political and economic impacts of drivers of change (such as technology, globalisation, demographics, mobility and migration) and their interplay.

Inclusive growth is boosted and vulnerabilities are reduced effectively through evidence-based policies for protecting and enhancing employment, education, social fairness and tackling inequalities, including in response to the socio-economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Link Link to Programme
Call
Determining key drivers of inequality trends
Description of call
"Determining key drivers of inequality trends"

Expected Outcome

Projects should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Analyse the main drivers of inequality trends, considering both inequality of opportunities and inequality of outcomes in terms of conditions of life, economic resources and health, analyse the interplay between inequalities in different spheres of life, and identify policy factors for tackling them.
  • Identify and analyse different drivers of inequalities at the local, regional, national and supranational level and identify the governance levels best placed to act.
  • Produce research evidence, guidance and recommendations for policy-makers, social partners, firms and stakeholders to tackle unsustainable trends and reverse inequalities.
  • Understand key drivers of increasing territorial inequalities and identify policy factors at different governance levels for tackling urban and rural decline.
  • Understand how people perceive these inequalities (depending on culture, age, gender, etc.)

Scope:

In the light of increasing economic and social inequalities and regional disparities in terms of both economic and other outcomes and opportunities, research should analyse the main reasons for the increasing inequalities reported in the last decades worldwide and, thereby, identify whether this is primarily policy driven and/or the result of different factors related to globalisation and technological innovations. More specifically, research should examine whether inequality dynamics are determined by different trends:

  • pre-market processes including the transfer of inequalities and resources across generations (the role of cultural capital, unequal familial and background factors, paying special attention to single-parent families with dependent children; unequal access to education and training of adequate quality and content at all levels, including early childhood education and care, digital skills training or to employment counselling)
  • in-market processes (labour market dynamics and institutions including employment contracts and working conditions, capital and goods market structure; increasing relevance of superstar firms; globalized value chains, allocation of labour on a global scale, diffusion of innovation across firms)
  • post-market processes (tax-benefit policies)
  • other processes (public policies, tax evasion, discrimination, digital inequality, institutionalised racism, gender gap, effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, etc.)
  • the dynamic interplay between different forms of inequalities across different spheres and stages of life.

Research should also identify means to attenuate the trends of increasing inequalities. Part of the reasons for the rising inequalities may come from suboptimal labour market dynamics. Research should therefore also analyse the main features and institutional set up determining effective and well-performing labour markets, also with the view to help accelerating labour market and economic convergence within Member States and across EU Member States.

Research should consider and advise on how current social, cultural, and economic transformations should be best steered, so that they are fair and socially just, and do not further increase existing inequalities or create new ones. Research should include a focus on territorial inequalities and the loss of economic weight of the middle-class and on the COVID-19 economic crisis, with its unequal distributional effects for those suffering the most. Local and regional levels seem to gain momentum, but comparative research is needed in order to understand the roles of local and regional stakeholders in the struggle with inequalities. Almost everywhere in the European Union, territorial inequalities are producing what has been recently labelled as “left-behind places” in which “mainstream” development policies fail to reverse the trends of increasing inequalities. It is therefore important to compare the capacity of local stakeholders in such declining urban and rural territories to implement innovative redevelopment policies based on a better understanding of the local assets of “left-behind places”. Finally, research may assess how the digitalisation of societies (and in particular the public sector) can contribute to reducing inequalities (e.g. reducing digital skills gap, engaging vulnerable groups in the policymaking process, more inclusive digital public services policies).

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Demographic Change, Migration, Employment & Labour Market, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Equal Rights, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Social Inclusion, Art & Culture, Cultural Heritage, History, Media
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, National Government, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Call opens 22.06.2021
Call closes 07.10.2021
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 2.00 and 3.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 10.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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