How to steer the EU towards Wellbeing for All? An agenda for policy makers

How to steer the EU towards Wellbeing for All? An agenda for policy makers

These uncertain times provide a complex puzzle for policy makers, who need to resolve urgent short and long-term crises, while also alleviating societal concerns and uncertainty. The advocacy paper “A European Agenda to Navigate Uncertain Times – How to steer the EU towards Wellbeing for All Now and in the Future”  aims to provide the European Commission  the architecture of an integrated, holistic policy framework for Europe to enhance sustainable and inclusive wellbeing. The advocacy paper has been written by Researchers from 5 Horizon-funded projects, namely SPES, ToBe, WISE Horizons and WISER (these projects also collaborate in the Coordination and Support Action called MERGE).


European Policy Agenda for Sustainable and Inclusive Wellbeing

1. Strengthen the Science-Based Policy Toolkit

Building on existing efforts, tools for science-based decision-making should be further strengthened. In particular:

  • Metrics & Accounts. Indicators/indexes are needed to monitor progress. These metrics should be embedded in an accounting system to assess trade-off and synergies. Leveraging existing collaborations with the UN, OECD, World Bank and IMF, the EC should consolidate the metrics and accounts needed to create international benchmarks for sustainable and inclusive wellbeing.
  • Policy models for forecasting & impact assessment. Policy models which are vital for analysing and forecasting needs, assessing impacts, supporting policy formulation and ensuring ex-ante and ex-post evaluations should be strengthened to assess wellbeing, inclusion and sustainability.

2. Reform the European Semester Process

A crucial part of the EU policy agenda is to reform the European Semester process – the EU’s socio-economic governance framework – to better support sustainable and inclusive wellbeing. Actions to consider:

  • The Semester should be based on three foundational principles:
    • Coherent goal-orientation and target-driven governance. The goal of the Semester should be to steer progress towards sustainable and inclusive wellbeing. Links to existing governance frameworks should be established, while further targets are needed.
    • Improved monitoring systems. Existing monitoring systems should be strengthened and expanded to better monitor progress towards achieving new and existing goals and targets.
    • Funding mechanisms. The European Semester process must adequately monitor the implementation of EU funding mechanisms. The design, adequacy and criteria for allocating EU funding should be reassessed and investments should be directed away from harmful policies and projects. Options for progressive taxation and a successor instrument to the Recovery and Resilient Facility (RRF) should be investigated to fill investment gaps.
  • To ensure that a reformed European Semester can monitor the EU’s progress towards sustainable and inclusive wellbeing and steer reforms and investments, three quality implementation principles are needed.
    • Horizontal coordination and coherence. Horizontal coordination at EU and national levels must be increased at all steps of the European Semester to  overcome policy silos and ensure balanced coherent progress towards sustainable and inclusive wellbeing.
    • Whole-of-society participation. The participation of relevant stakeholders in the European Semester process should be improved by ensuring a whole-of-society participation approach. This should involve meaningful and structured co-creation of policies with social partners, organised civil society, businesses, academia, people and relevant stakeholders.
    • Enforcement mechanisms. The capacity of the European Semester to support appropriate enforcement should be strengthened to incentivise governments to work towards sustainable and inclusive wellbeing. This should involve strengthening links with EU funding mechanisms to create incentives for  implementation.

3. Implement Policies for 5 Societal Transformations and 13 Policy Areas

This horizontal policy agenda, which is based on scientific insights and stakeholder input, needs clear coordination. This could be achieved by the EVP who will be responsible for the horizontal coherence across 5 transformations and 13 policy areas.

  • 5 societal transformations. Policies should be developed for five societal transformations: Two “thematic transformations” align with the objective of achieving sustainable and inclusive wellbeing and are complemented by three “enabling transformations” (mission economy & finance, transformative research & innovation and multi-level governance).
  • 13 policy areas. The societal transformations are linked to 13 policy domains. This paper suggests a non-exhaustive list of concrete policy suggestions in its annex.

Read the full advocacy paper below

This paper was written at the request of DG-RTD of the European Commission. It was co-written by the consortium coordinators and policy leads of four Horizon Europe research and innovation projects: SPES, ToBe, WISE Horizons and WISER. These projects also collaborate in the Coordination and Support Action called MERGE. The contents of the report do not necessarily reflect the opinion of all researchers and institutes involved in these consortia.

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