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Policy area
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Date

Measuring social impact in the EU

16-05-2017

Austerity measures in the wake of the financial crisis, coupled with fragile economic growth, have triggered a shift in the focus of EU policy-makers towards deepening the economic and monetary union and achieving greater social convergence across Member States. In addition, due to growing inequalities and changing labour markets, discussions on investing in human capital have also come to the fore. In this context, it has become all the more important to understand and assess the social impact of ...

Austerity measures in the wake of the financial crisis, coupled with fragile economic growth, have triggered a shift in the focus of EU policy-makers towards deepening the economic and monetary union and achieving greater social convergence across Member States. In addition, due to growing inequalities and changing labour markets, discussions on investing in human capital have also come to the fore. In this context, it has become all the more important to understand and assess the social impact of policies and investments. Moreover, both public and private investors want to gain a better understanding of the social outcomes that are achieved by their investments. There is no clear consensual definition of the concept of social impact: while the social sciences look at the impact of policies and programmes, often in terms of social progress, social investors tend to look for the non-financial (that is, social and environmental) returns on their investments, which they tend to quantify and/or express in monetary terms, if possible. Metrics and methodologies to carry out the measurement of social impact are numerous but incoherent. The European Commission and European Parliament have their own mechanisms for impact assessment, in which they also assess social impact. In addition, several initiatives aim at measuring the social dimension of growth beyond GDP, arguing that GDP in itself does not hold enough information on social progress. The third sector has developed several methodologies to measure social impact as well, due to its interest in investing in social causes. Unlike outputs, it is often difficult to quantify outcomes and impacts. Moreover, it is debated whether quantification, no matter how comprehensive it is, can express the intricate nature of the issues at hand. Finally, developing a coherent framework that would help to effectively link strategic thinking with policy-making and policy implementation, including investment, remains a policy challenge.

A new phase in EU-Cuba relations

23-06-2014

After 18 years of restricted policy, the EU and Cuba have started negotiations towards a future bilateral agreement aiming at supporting economic and democratic reforms. With power passing definitively from Fidel to Raúl Castro, Cuba has shown more openness to modernisation of the country. This new prospect of a normalisation in EU-Cuba relations may even stimulate some policy change in Washington.

After 18 years of restricted policy, the EU and Cuba have started negotiations towards a future bilateral agreement aiming at supporting economic and democratic reforms. With power passing definitively from Fidel to Raúl Castro, Cuba has shown more openness to modernisation of the country. This new prospect of a normalisation in EU-Cuba relations may even stimulate some policy change in Washington.

Iran at a Crossroads: What Will Follow the Nuclear Deal?

11-12-2013

The agreement reached in Geneva on Iran's nuclear programme should allow Iran to return to the international scene as a political as well as a trade partner. While the terms of the deal will require attention and effort, hopes in Europe, Iran and the MENA region are running high for the first time in many years. Tehran could soon play the role of constructive regional power, helping resolve a wide range of regional security problems and serving as a motor of economic growth for the entire region. ...

The agreement reached in Geneva on Iran's nuclear programme should allow Iran to return to the international scene as a political as well as a trade partner. While the terms of the deal will require attention and effort, hopes in Europe, Iran and the MENA region are running high for the first time in many years. Tehran could soon play the role of constructive regional power, helping resolve a wide range of regional security problems and serving as a motor of economic growth for the entire region. If the country’s recently-elected president, Hassan Rouhani, also manages to carry out his ambitious political and economic reform programme, the Iranian people may gain civil rights and enjoy a more prosperous economic future. The EU has a strategic interest in supporting reformist forces within Iran.

China Pledges to 'Deepen' Reforms, Though Implementation Remains to Be Seen

25-11-2013

On 12 November 2013, the Central Committee of China's Communist Party adopted measures to 'deepen reform'. The reforms would support China's economic development. Legal reform will continue, but the Party’s supremacy and application of law remain key issues. Re-education through labour is to be abandoned. China will gradually reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty. Public ownership will remain at the centre of the Chinese economic system. State-owned enterprises will lose some of ...

On 12 November 2013, the Central Committee of China's Communist Party adopted measures to 'deepen reform'. The reforms would support China's economic development. Legal reform will continue, but the Party’s supremacy and application of law remain key issues. Re-education through labour is to be abandoned. China will gradually reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty. Public ownership will remain at the centre of the Chinese economic system. State-owned enterprises will lose some of their privileges. The private sector is encouraged to participate in state-owned projects. Couples in which one parent is an only child will be allowed to have two children. The strict control over urban residence rights, which deprives millions of migrant workers social and cultural benefits, is to be loosened. Accessing household registration rights in big cities will remain tightly restricted. The resolution specifies, 'It is to be permitted that rural collective and construction land use is sold, rented or leased'. The reform includes shaping 'an online public opinion structure that integrates positive guidance'. The resolution of the Party's Central Committee includes issues that China's authorities are often reluctant to address. The Party has re-affirmed its authority in all areas of reform. Most proposals represent a continuation of ongoing reforms. The measures’ success will depend on their implementation.

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