European Social Policy

Coordinator : Prof. Dr. Bea Cantillon


Whereas until recently it was possible to limit social policy research to national policies (with international comparisons merely to inform national policy) the European and global dimension of social redistribution is steadily gaining importance: partly because international policy levels have gotten direct or indirect influence on national policy, partly because income distribution is increasingly determined by the growing mobility of companies and people (migration). At present the Centre mainly focuses on the European dimension of social policy. Given social subsidiarity in a common market, the problem of the sustainability of national systems of social redistribution is addressed. Research focuses on the operation and adequacy of the Open Method of Coordination – the actual practice of social policy in Europe. In the Centre’s research on Europe’s social situation, the analysis of social indicators that sustain the OMC (and to which the Centre substantially contributed) forms an important part of the Centre’s current research agenda.


Poverty reduction in Europe: social policy and innovation (imPRoVe)


Duration: 01/03/2012 – 29/02/2016
Funding: European Commission – FP 7
Promoter: Bea Cantillon


ImPRovE constitutes a new partnership between the Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy; the Centre on Inequality, Poverty, Social Exclusion and the City (UA) (Belgium), Athens University of Economics and Business (Greece); TÁRKI Social Research Institute (Hungary); the London School of Economics Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (U.K.); the University of Essex Institute for Social and Economic Research (U.K.); the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien Institute for the Environment and Regional Development (Austria); the Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo (Italy); the University of Turku Turun Yliopisto (Finland). The project takes the long standstill in poverty reduction as its starting point to improve the understanding of the interrelationships between employment, social protection and social inclusion and between institutionalised macro level social policies and innovative local action. Next to a quantitative analysis of poverty trends in the past, it evaluates the adequacy of existing policies and the implications of alternative scenarios for employment and tax-benefit-services schemes to meet the 2020 poverty targets. The project is complemented with in-depth studies of selected cases of local social policies. It develops new tools for monitoring poverty, social policy and social innovative practices. And for the first time reference budgets are computed for several member states.



The meaning of the principle of solidarity in European law


Duration: 01/01/2009 – 31/12/2012
Funding: Flemish Research Fund (FWO)
Promoters: Herwig Verschueren, Bea Cantillon (co-promoter), Anne-Marie Van Den Bossche (co-promoter)
Researcher: Paula Ploscar


The principle of solidarity is becoming increasingly significant in European law. On the one hand this stems from the existing European Treaties and the reinforcement of the principle of solidarity in the Treaty of Lisbon and in the EU Charter of fundamental rights. It also follows from the most recent developments in the case law of the European Court of Justice with regard to the implementation of parts of community law such as European citizenship, internal market and competition. The prime objective of this research is to analyse how European law defines the principle of solidarity. The results will then be compared to the definition of this concept in the European Open Method of Coordination as well as in Member States' social law and policy. This should lead to conclusions on the issue as to whether there is a coherent view on the principle of solidarity within this European context.


Country information on the implementation of active inclusion strategies


Duration: 15/10/2011 – 25/10/2011
Funding: European Commission
Promoter: Ive Marx
Researcher: Tim Van Rie


This project mapped the progress of European member states towards the implementation of the active inclusion strategy into their minimum income schemes.



Statistics for the Evaluation of the Coordination Regulation


Duration: 18/12/2010 – 17/12/2011
Funding: European Commission – TreSS Network
Promoter: Bea Cantillon
Researchers: Ninke Mussche, Vincent Corluy & Aaron Van den Heede


This project developed a set of indicators that can potentially be used for the evaluation of the EU Regulation on the Coordination of Social Security Systems. In a first part the available data sources from which indicators can be derived were collected and explained. In the second part the indicators that can be used to evaluate the Coordination regulation were listed in three sets/stages of indicators. The three stages are based on the availability of data and the feasibility to extract the desired information from the existing and developing data sets.



CONVERGE – Are European welfare states converging towards a single European social model?


Duration: 01/11/2009 – 30/08/2012
Funding: Federal Science Policy
Promoters: Ive Marx & Bea Cantillon
Researchers: Tim Van Rie and Sarah Marchal


This project analyses latent as well as intentional convergence and coordination mechanisms in the field of social policy in the European sphere, and more specifically examines how these mechanisms influence Belgian social policy.
Despite the fact that social policy mainly remains a national and sub-national competence there are several reasons to suspect that the space to develop social policy autonomously becomes ever more limited. First, it is often argued that increasing economic integration and competition limits the autonomy of nation states to conduct social policy, certainly when it concerns relatively expensive policies which could potentially frighten investors and profit seeking companies. Second, we can expect that increased mobility and exchange in the European Sphere promote policy uniformity through mechanisms of policy imitation. Third, there is a possible influence of the Open Method of Coordination as applied to EU policy goals concerning employment and social affairs. This process is of great importance in view of its intentional and policy driven character. The purpose of this project is to analyse latent as well as intentional convergence and coordination mechanisms of social policy in the European sphere, and particularly how they influence Belgian social policy. Is there any sign of a general convergence and if so, in what direction does this convergence go? Is it in the direction of cutbacks and a race to the bottom as is sometimes feared? Or is any convergence more of a contingent and path dependent nature and if so what are the institutional factors that shape these path dependencies? Are there still countries that succeed in sailing an atypical, divergent course and if so, what drives them? What is the position of Belgium in this context?



Eastern European welfare regimes within Social Europe. A comparison of the architecture and social adequacy of the income protection of the elderly in three Eastern European countries.


Duration: 01/10/2008 – 30/09/2011
Funding: Flemish Research Foundation (FWO Vlaanderen)
Promoter: Bea Cantillon
Researcher: Tim Goedemé


In this project, the architecture and social adequacy of the welfare regimes in the Eastern EU member states is compared. In order to do so, the project focuses on the evolution of the income situation of the elderly. Using various quantitative techniques the effect of cross-temporary and cross-sectional differences in social policy on the intergenerational and intra-generational distribution of income is estimated. More specifically the importance of differences in income packages (public, private, occupational pensions, compensations in health-care and housing, income from work) for the adequacy of incomes are scrutinized. In doing so, the project contributes to a better understanding of the impact of social policy on social outcomes and to the literature on the evolution of welfare regimes.

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