EU Programmes with link to social innovation
The European Commission deploys programmes in achieving its political priorities. While the EU can have legislative powers in certain areas such as the internal market, some of the policy priorities cannot achieved without the involvement of external stakeholders. To reach this end, the European Commission has a set of thematic programmes that aim to contribute to the political goals set by the EU.
The programmes are aimed at all types of societal actors, thus benefitting a wide range of stakeholders. Each programme has however its own beneficiaries.
Horizon 2020 is the current European research and innovation programme for 2014-20. As a single programme, it constitutes the funding arm of Innovation Union and a core part of Europe 2020 as well as for the European Research Area. Importantly, Horizon 2020 marks break from the past by coupling research to all forms of innovation, also including social innovation, and thus covering the entire value creation chain in this single programme.
Horizon 2020 provides strong support in enabling the market to uptake innovation. This is translated into support for projects that demonstrate the economic and societal potential of new technologies, pilots of new services with end users, where social innovation can have an important place, and projects that will validate whether products and services can work on a sufficiently large scale to be societably viable.
Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI)
The current funding programme for social policy EaSI builds on the results of its predecessor PROGRESS and expand on some of its activities. The current EaSI programme is based on three axis:
- The modernisation of employment and social policies with the PROGRESS axis (61% of the total budget);
- Job mobility with the EURES axis (18% of the total budget);
- Access to micro-finance and social entrepreneurship with the Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis (21% of the total budget).
For the 2014-20 period, the ‘PROGRESS’ axis of EaSI will continue its current activities and will have a specific budget for social innovation and social policy experimentation. EaSI thus provides a new impetus to social innovation activities, including exploiting synergies among different strands, in particular in relation to social innovation and microfinance facilities and support to social entrepreneurs.
Erasmus+ aims to boost skills and employability, and modernise education, training and youth work. The current programme represents a 40% increase to previous spending levels, which shows the EU’s commitment to invest in these areas. Erasmus+ will provide opportunities for young Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad. In the current programme, particular attention is also given to persons with special needs and from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The programme also supports transnational and cross-sectoral partnerships between education, training and youth organisations for enhanced cooperation. Part of this, one of the aims is to bridge the two worlds of education and work as to tackle the current skills gap in Europe.
The creative Europe programme intends to back strategic, dynamic and interactive processes implemented by cultural and creative organisations. In doing so, it aims to make culture widely accessible and engage people through various means such as co-creation, partnerships, volunteering or digital tools. The programme also supports innovative business models relying on digital technologies, which contribute to empowering artists, including approaches such as ‘do-it-yourself’ and ‘direct-to-fan’.
In general terms, the programme underlines the importance of policy dialogue and networking in the field of cultural and media literacy. It also aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the cultural and creative sectors, the cross-border circulation of culture and the adaptation of the sector to the digital shift.
In this perspective, and with a view to promoting innovation (including with social innovation), the programme supports the mobility of artists, works of art and films, transnational exchanges of experience and know-how about new business models, peer-learning activities or testing of new and cross-sectoral business approaches to funding.
Europe for citizens
The Europe for Citizens Programme adopted for the period 2014-2020 is an important instrument aimed at getting the Union’s 500 million inhabitants to play a greater part in the development of the Union. By funding schemes and activities in which citizens can participate, the Programme is promoting Europe’s shared history and values and fostering a sense of ownership for how the Union develops.
The Programme is implemented through two strands: the second strand (closer to social innovation) encourages democratic and civic participation of citizens at Union level. In this regard, the programme has a strong emphasis in promoting societal engagement and solidarity in the light of having European citizens execute their rights and responsibilities towards themes of common interest through gathering of opinions such as debates/campaigns/actions as well as volunteering activities promoting solidarity among the Union’s citizens and beyond.
Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme
The Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme promotes and protects specific rights and freedoms of persons deriving from EU law. In this regard, it combats all forms of discrimination and fights racism. The new proogramme also continues to provide funding for Roma inclusion. In essence, the programme helps EU citizens and consumers to exercise their rights, such as those deriving from the citizenship of the Union, from the consumer acquis or from the data protection legislation. The promotion of children’s rights and fighting violence against women, young people and children will also be funded by this programme.
Overall, the programme finances actions with a European added value, including national and small-scale projects. Actions that can be supported include awareness-raising campaigns, training activities (such as workshops and seminars), collection of data, surveys and cross-border cooperation.