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Enhancing social inclusion in rural areas: focus on people in a vulnerable situation and social economy


Projects funded under this topic will contribute to build more inclusive, social resilient and prosperous European rural areas by improving the understanding of social inclusion and social economy challenges in rural areas, by taking stock of existing policies responses, and solutions for the provision of adequate services to the population in a vulnerable situation and for enhancing social economy and entrepreneurship.

Projects will also address these challenges by piloting innovative solutions that foster social economy and improve social inclusion of people in a situation of vulnerability.

Proposals are expected to:

  • Identify and analyse the drivers of social exclusion and the challenges to address disparities and marginalisation in various rural areas in Europe, (e.g. remote rural areas, rural areas in the EU's outermost regions (defined in article 349 TFEU), costal and mountain areas, rural areas close to towns and cities);
  • Gain a better understanding of the needs of and challenges faced by people in a vulnerable situation in various rural areas of Europe, the possible ways to address economic and demographic challenges, including ageing, disability, and vulnerability of young people where relevant (in particular those not in employment, education or training NEET), and accessibility to adequate services (e.g. considering also universal design), including social ones (e.g. for people with mental or physical disabilities);
  • Benchmark policies, services, including social ones, and initiatives developed at various levels to empower people in a vulnerable situation to full and effective participation and inclusion in society, including social economy and entrepreneurship (e.g. social farming, itinerant services and mobility, multishops), pooling of services and creation of meeting places to enhance social interaction (e.g. multidisciplinary health houses, associative cafés), public-private partnerships, and rural-urban linkages. Assess the quality, strengths and weaknesses of these services and to what extent they are used by/reach the target groups;
  • Explore the role, potential and limitations of social economy and social enterprises in supporting the population in a vulnerable situation in rural areas, including for the provision of basic and adequate social services;
  • Make policy recommendations on how to improve service delivery and other relevant measures in order to meet the needs of people in a vulnerable situation, as well as on how to create and enabling framework for the upscale of social economy in rural areas;
  • Accompany pilot innovation actions supporting people in a vulnerable situation and social entrepreneurship to draw additional knowledge from concrete examples.

Proposals should be innovation-oriented and must implement the multi-actor approach, bringing together multiple science fields, in particular the social sciences and humanities (SSH) (e.g. sociology, behavioural sciences, psychology, economics, etc.), and actors with complementary roles and experiences (e.g. representatives of people in a vulnerable situation, service providers, health services, associations, public authorities, universal designers, etc.).

Proposals should cover a representative variety of European rural areas, consider various types of vulnerability (including gender and intersectionality when relevant), and take stock of and experiment a variety of social economy and service provision examples.

Projects should build on existing results, findings and good practices. For instance they could explore activities undertaken by Horizon Europe projects funded under the topics HORIZON-CL2-2022-TRANSFORMATIONS-01-02 and HORIZON-CL2-2021-TRANSFORMATIONS-01-03.

Finally, projects funded under this topic should coordinate activities between them to avoid overlaps and benefit from synergies. Proposals should allocate appropriate budget and resources to implement this task.