In EU Policy, Research


Year: 2022
Published in: Publications Office of the European Union
Cited as: European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Ledan, A., Social experimentation : a practical guide for project promoters, Publications Office of the European Union, 2022,




Social innovation and social experimentations are more than ever needed to find innovative ways to tackle our contemporary societal challenges, such as climate change, environment protection, social and economic inequalities and poverty, demographic issues and migration trends, and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the 2014-2020 programming period, the EaSI programme1 provided financial support to 35 projects to test social and labour market policy innovations before being implemented at a larger scale, as well as to build up the main actors’ capacity to design and implement social policy initiatives. Some great achievements have been acknowledged but more can be done to improve their impact on the policy field and their upscaling in order to benefit more people.
The social experimentation approach – combining social policy experimentation, mainstreaming and upscaling – remains valid for the new 2021-2027 period. It can be further improved through the enhanced support to social innovation provided by the EU’s biggest funding scheme investing in human capital, the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)2. Social innovation and social experimentation will be supported in three complementary ways, under shared, direct and indirect management, increasing potential synergies between the various strands of ESF+. This new legal and financial landscape offers more opportunities to fund, transfer and upscale successfully tested social experimentations.
This guide aims to contribute to turning these opportunities into reality by providing a better practical understanding of social innovation and social experimentation as well as guidance for future project promoters preparing their social experimentation proposals.