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Modernising public service policy throughout Europe

12.05.2006


On 8-9 June 2006, the European Science Foundation (ESF) will launch an ESF Research Networking Programme to help member countries adapt their public policies and services to the changing political and cultural realities of the European Union.



Enlargement, harmonisation of tax policy, and growing labour mobility all bring public policy challenges that require improved understanding of the underlying dynamics in order to develop solutions.

The ‘Public Goods, Public Projects, Externalities’ programme (PGPPE) brings together leading economists, environmentalists and public sector specialists in a collaborative programme to study two closely related problems. The first concerns the provision of public products and services, such as health services, education, research, transport infrastructures, parks, cultural and recreational facilities, which need to adapt to changing cultural conditions such as the ethnic composition of a region. The second challenge is posed by changes external to a region, such as labour mobility and competition from neighbouring countries with lower taxes. Ireland, for example, attracted business from other European countries through tax incentives, while enlargement has stimulated labour migration from Eastern to Western Europe.


These two groups of problems require integrated approaches involving the whole European Union in some cases, and touch on a wide variety of disciplines. This led the European Science Foundation to become involved and draw on its wide experience of creating pan European multi-disciplinary networks.

For this Research Networking Programme, a major focus lies in reconciling underlying theories of economic equilibrium and welfare analysis with practical policy considerations. Achieving this requires communication between academics and practitioners of public economics such as policy makers. This will take place via a website as well as programme activities such as themed workshops every year, culminating in a conference at the end of the four year period.

The programme has 38 main participants from across Europe, which highlights the ambitious scope of the programme and the determination to develop new solutions to difficult problems that are shared by all of Europe, despite or perhaps because of its huge diversity.

In order to focus clearly, the programme is confined to issues of public goods and services as affected by both internal and external factors, rather than the whole domain of public economics. Specific objectives include:

* Sharing knowledge and advancing collaborative research

* Developing new and fruitful approaches to problems facing policy makers

* Training of young researchers

* Building collaborative bridges with other groups outside Europe

PGPPE, running from June 2006 to July 2010, will include annual themed workshops, each dealing with a specific selected topic. These workshops will provide a forum for intensive focus and discussion in order to maximise the resulting feedback. One summer school will be organised to train researchers in specialised subjects. In the final year of the project there will be a major conference to disseminate results of the activities within the programme.

Caroline Eckert | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esf.org/esf_pressarea_page.php?language=0§ion=6&year=2006&newsrelease=113

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