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The RE‐InVEST project aims to contribute to an and inclusive EU of growing solidarity, through an inclusive, powerful and effective social investment strategy at EU level. Moreover, the project itself adopts a participative approach that involves the voices of vulnerable groups and civil society organisations.

While the EU is basically still following a neoliberal path of austerity and liberalisation, the Commission is becoming increasingly aware of the need to re‐orient the current strategy in favour of social investments.

RE‐InVEST will contribute in innovative ways:

  • Reframing the social investment approach as a strategy to ‘humanise’ Europe: with the SIP rooted in a philosophy that prioritises implementing human rights and the multidimensional well‐being of each citizen, the chances for all stakeholders to adhere to the strategy should increase.

  • New lessons for active labour market policies, based on advanced qualitative and quantitative empirical research with a special focus on the most vulnerable groups. The social investment approach to ALMP will be contrasted with workfare‐like approaches focussed on short‐term employment effects, whatever the quality of the jobs.

  • An innovative social investment theory of social protection, distinct from the neoliberal ‘making work pay’ paradigm, which sees social transfers as resources for self‐investment by recipients into their own capabilities. Both theories (making work pay versus social investment) will be tested against each other, resulting in a more balanced vision and more balanced social protection policies;

  • A renewed framework for regulating basic service markets: Beyond the arguments of competition, free choice, responsiveness, and cost efficiency that have driven the recent liberalisation measures, the social investment approach will elaborate arguments underpinning social minimum standards, such as implementing effective universal basic economic, social and cultural rights, non‐discrimination, and the quality of social services.

  • Policy recommendations relating conditions for a successful social investment strategy at macro-level: innovative funding strategies, improved (democratic) governance by social and civil dialogue, and amending the subsidiarity principle.

  • A better distribution of investments across various sections of society is a long-run goal of the SIP strategy. At present, this distribution appears to be ‘neutral’ on average: The poorest do not benefit more than any other group in society from social investments. A stronger redistribution effect can be achieved by gradually implementing the principle of ‘progressive universalism’. This means that, while the access to public services remains universal, positive action should be taken in favour of target groups with the highest needs through a combination of antidiscrimination measures, information, sensitisation, as well as preferential access and treatment. RE‐InVEST will also explore the best ways to make the SIP strategy more equitable and inclusive.