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Social Policy Experimentation in the EU

Conducted on behalf of: The Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, European Commission

Commenced: September 2013

Project context

For several years now, the EU has been promoting innovation and modernisation of Member States’ social and employment policies through peer-reviewing, mutual learning, communication, and transfer of best practices, all of which help to improve policy design and focus. In order to support social innovation, the European Commission is aiming to: promote quality and sustainable employment; guarantee adequate and decent social protection; combat social exclusion and poverty; and improve working conditions through the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme financing instrument.

Nevertheless, cross–national learning in the field of social policy would benefit from greater recourse to scientific methods to test and assess policy innovation. It is now widely accepted that our collective knowledge about the effectiveness of social policies is held back not only by the lack of comprehensive and high-quality data, but also by the insufficient cooperation between those designing and implementing policies and those assessing them.

Objectives of the project

The project seeks to support the EaSI programme, the European Commission’s Social Protection Committee (SPC), and the European Commission’s wider social innovation agenda in promoting social innovation, and assessing innovative initiatives. The primary target group of the project is actors at a national level able to design and implement innovative social policy reforms. In order to provide this target group with strong support, the project builds on work on social policy reforms in the EU Member States.

The project’s activities include information and training sessions across Europe on testing social innovation, the production of a guide on the available means to test initiatives, the provision of support and advice to Member States on these issues, and the creation of a network for dissemination and collaboration between stakeholders.

Research team

Dr Simona Milio isAssociate Director of the Social and Cohesion Policy Unit at LSE Enterprise.

Marc Gurgand is an Associate Professor at the Paris School of Economics.

Bregtje Kamphuis is a Project Officer and Researcher at LSE Enterprise.

Hélène Giacobino is Executive Director of J-PAL Europe.

Jonathan Breckon is the manager of the Alliance for Useful Evidence, a partnership between Nesta, ESRC and BIG Lottery.