How is EU employment policy driving social innovation

Document type
Stanley, Isaac; Gabriel, Madeleine
Date of publication
14 December 2017
Social Policy, Employment, Education and Skills
Social welfare
Material type

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Employment is a key priority for the EU, and top-level strategies such as Europe 2020 recognise the role of social innovation in achieving these goals. But in practice, how has the EU supported employment social innovations? Given responsibility for employment policy sits with member states, what can the EU do to influence activity on the ground?

Key findings:

  • EU-funded social innovations are taking new approaches to tackling employment problems by making links with other social policy issues.
  • Most cases observed did not fundamentally challenge existing systems. Given the scale of funds such as ESF, it would be possible for the EU to fund innovations with far greater radical potential.
  • The relationship between EU structural funds and the support for social innovations can be more closely aligned. Funds such as the ESF can contribute to structural inertia by propping up otherwise failing public employment systems.

EU funds are key levers to support the implementation of both strategies and initiatives. Three EU funds in particular have been important in driving social innovation in employment: European Social Fund (ESF), the Youth Employment Initiative, and the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

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