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What is the EU Platform on Reference Budgets?

The EU Platform on reference budgets is a European network of researchers and institutions involved in the development of reference budgets. The main goals of the Platform are:

  1. to support the development of national and cross-nationally comparable reference budgets that are in accordance with the highest academic standards in all EU member states;

  2. to collaborate on improving the theoretical, methodological and infrastructural foundations and applications of reference budgets;

  3. to organize a a dialogue with societal stakeholders on the requirements and uses of reference budgets and to exchange knowledge and experiences with regard to academic, policy and practical applications of reference budgets;

  4. to function as a point of reference and gateway to expertise on reference budgets in the EU;

  5. to be an ambassador for advancing research into and the use of reference budgets throughout Europe, both by the research community and societal stakeholders, with a view to contributing to the realisation of a decent living standard for all.

What does the EU Platform on Reference Budgets envisage to do?

a. It creates and develops an active and lively network on reference budgets by bringing researchers as well as societal stakeholders regularly together in meetings, workshops and conferences;

b. It establishes relationships with other expert networks that can provide relevant input that is conducive to increasing both the quality and the use of reference budgets;

c. It functions as an incubator for collaborative research and knowledge exchange to improve the validity, comparability, feasibility, acceptability, robustness and use of reference budgets;

d. In particular, it

(1)  sets up a collaborative research effort to develop common standards, guidelines, tools and best practices to realise comparable reference budgets in European countries which can be used for many purposes, including monitoring anti-poverty policies, the accessibility of essential goods and services, and the adequacy of income protection across the EU;

(2) organises a knowledge exchange among researchers and stakeholders with regard to best practice applications, tools and instruments based on reference budgets, which can be used by researchers and practitioners for various scientific and societal purposes in a European, national, regional or local context;

e. It develops a sound long-term funding strategy to maintain and expand the activities of the network;

f. It develops and maintains an information bank on research and applications of reference budgets across Europe to fulfil its function as a knowledge centre and gateway to reference budgets;

g. It develops an effective communication and dissemination strategy to fulfil its function as an ambassador of reference budgets research and applications.

What are reference budgets and why are they important?

Reference budgets are illustrative priced baskets of goods and services that represent a given living standard. Often they refer to the minimum required resources that people need in order to participate adequately in society.

Academic research on the development of reference budgets demonstrates high valorisation potentials, both in the field of fundamental and applied research. Practice highlights the added-value of reference budgets for policy-makers, public authorities, NGOs and citizens.

Examples of academic applications include the development of policy indicators (e.g. on the accessibility of publicly provided or subsidised services), the contextualisation of existing poverty indicators, and the assessment of the adequacy of social protection and minimum incomes. Reference budgets respond also to important societal and policy needs, and are used by NGOs, citizens and policy-makers, for instance as a tool for setting minimum income levels, defining policy priorities, providing additional income support, debt rescheduling and financial education.