On February 28-29, 2012, the European Research Project COPE was kicked off in Oldenburg, Germany. During two days of intensive work and fruitful discussions, 20 researchers from six European countries developed a detailed working plan for the next three years.
The meeting started with an initial presentation by the Scientific Project Officer Marc Goffart (European Commission) and a short welcome address from Babette Simon the president of the CvO University of Oldenburg. Martin Heidenreich, the scientific coordinator of COPE, gave a brief overview over the main issues and the objectives of the project. The research of COPE is based on two administrative (1 and 8) and six material (2-7) work packages, each led by one of the European partners. The introduction was followed by the presentations of all work packages (WP). Each presentation of a work package comprised a short presentation by the work package leader, followed by a plenary discussion about the objectives of the WP and the next steps.
Bjørn Hvinden from the Norwegian Social Research (NOVA) in Oslo, Norway, described in his presentation the tasks of WP 2. Essentially for the project, WP 2 aims to define poverty as a multidimensional problem and concludes the project with a synthesis of the policies for combating poverty. WP 3 was presented by the WP leader and Scientific Coordinator of the project Martin Heidenreich from the Jean Monnet Centre for Europeanisation and Transnational Regulations Oldenburg (CETRO). The task of this WP is to analyse national patterns of poverty, social exclusion and deprivation by means of multivariate and multilevel analyses of the socio-economic situation of the three target groups (single parents, long-term unemployed, working poor). The research will mainly be based on European micro data sets. On behalf of WP 4 Matteo Jessoula from the Department of Labour and Welfare Studies of the University of Milan (DSLW), Italy, presented their two core aspects: Active inclusion policies on the European level and the impact of the European policy arenas on the multi-level setting of minimum income schemes. In a second step Maurizio Ferrera (DSLW) presented a preliminary analytical overview on the notion of “arenas” that all participants judged as very helpful. Alexander Goerne who represented the University of Edinburgh (UEDIN), United Kingdom, continued with an overview over WP 5. The crucial task is to study the different modes of active inclusion policies across the five national cases. This has to be done in close cooperation with especially those partners who work on the EU-level (WP 4) and the local arena (WP 6). The coordinator of WP 6, Håkan Johansson from the School of Social Work (SOCH) in Lund, Sweden, presented an overview over the research objectives concerning the local arena. He puts special focus on the design of the research and brought up questions of how to choose the local case study and how to develop a concrete research focus. The Polish Team, headed by Wiesława Kozek from the Institute of Sociology of the University of Warsaw (ISUW), presented their plan of having all national teams, except NOVA, conducting 10 qualitative interviews on the topic of how the institutional structures of MIS influence individual life courses. They suggested selection criteria for the interviewees. A lively debate developed on the research methodology to be used. Beside these very interesting presentations and discussions on the upcoming research, the participants became also an insight into the COPE intranet and to issues concerning dissemination and management by Dorothee Spannagel (Project Manager) and Norbert Petzold from the Oldenburg COPE team.
Finally, the Scientific Coordinator, Martin Heidenreich, thanked all partners for their participation in this really successful kick-off meeting and wished them a pleasant flight back. The meeting was judged to be a very motivating start of COPE. All partners are looking forward to the next meeting in Milan together with the SAC, September 3th – 4th 2012.