//RSA workshop on the EU Cohesion Policy: The social dimensions of Cohesion Policy
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The social dimensions of cohesion policy

Centre for Geographical Studies/Institute of Geography & Spatial Planning, Universidade de Lisboa/University of Lisbon


26 oct. 2020 | 16h-18h
27 oct. 2020 | 16h-18h

The main aim of EU cohesion policy is to deliver economic, social and territorial cohesion. Arguably, since the financial crisis and ensuing recession the EU has prioritised jobs and growth over social cohesion. Before the COVID19 pandemic, the economic conditions were generally improving after the economic-financial crisis with returning economic growth and reducing unemployment levels in many Member States. Despite falling unemployment, 118 million EU citizens were still at risk of poverty and social exclusion (European Commission, 2017). The COVID-19 pandemic is having tremendous economic impacts, on top of the health problems. In the trade-offs between health and economy, social cohesions risks being left out or marginalised to favour a quick, short-term recovery. An objective of EU 2020 strategy was to reduce the number at risk of poverty and social exclusion by 20 million. This target remains some way off and progress on the social dimension appears to be lagging the economic objectives. Similarly, the social issues appear to be widening within the member states, with significant regional and territorial variances, and new challenges are paving the way for an extension of the scope of action of EU cohesion policy (e.g. migration, youth unemployment, poverty).

This research workshop will examine the social dimensions of EU Cohesion Policy by focusing on, and providing fresh thinking about:

  • the policy dynamics of the social inclusion objective in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • the economic implications of the social dimension,
  • impact on territorial cohesion – social changes within and between regions, and places,
  • the Social Pillar and the social implications of proposed changes to CP post 2020, notably ESF+, of the new EU Green Deal and of the new Just Transition Mechanism,
  • future progress toward Europe 2020 targets.

Proposed papers should include the following themes:

  • Social inclusion: including migration (immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, but also intra-national migration); integration of vulnerable groups/protected characteristics.
  • Gender and equality dimensions: research on the heterogeneous issues including intersectionality (those most at risk of poverty and social exclusion often face multiple barriers) and inter-generational issues – changing challenges facing the EU’s youth and older people.
  • Role of social partners in social and territorial integration; including non-profit organisations, community organisations.
  • Measuring and delivering social inclusion: including concepts and measures of ‘well-being’ ‘inclusive growth’, quality of life, and the European Social Progress Index, as well as the social impacts of competitiveness in EU regions and the effectiveness of measures addressing poverty and unemployment (incl. youth unemployment).



Bert Kuby, Head of Unit in Committee of the Regions, Coordinator of the study “Potential Impacts of COVID-19 on regions and cities”, October 2020



  Paolo Graziano is Professor of Political Science at the University of Padua and Research Associate at the European Social Observatory, Brussels. He has also been Honorary Professor at the Glasgow School for Business and Society – Glasgow Caledonian University (2015-2018). Teaches Political Science, Comparative Politics, and Public Policy Analysis

Carla Leal, Portuguese Agency for Development and Cohesion, Director of the Agency’s Strategic Monitoring and Evaluation Unit

(to be confirmed)

Participation in the event is free of charge. Participants not presenting papers are very welcome, but will need to register.

All information here