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José Luis Gómez-Barroso, Stefania Barillà and Ivan Harsløf

This chapter aims at assessing the EU’s emergent policy framework – the agendas, regulations and discourses – concerning social services within the larger field of social protection. At the turn of the millennium, it seemed that the conditions for a leap forward towards a more social union were in place, not only externally, by shifting its borders to the east, but also internally, by building up a more cohesive entity. In the latter respect, social services were given a prominent role. While it soon became clear that the EU would still be travelling essentially on economic rails, indeed social services are integral to the current strategy, as represented by the Social investment package and the Platform against poverty. In particular, a relevant part of the structural and investment funds to pursue social policy goals of promoting social services has been earmarked, marking a slight change in the mode of governance towards ‘harder’ law mechanisms. Yet beyond the very ambitious discourses and goals, an ambivalent stance and a number of structural tensions permeate the EU social policy framework and in particular the initiatives more specifically geared to social services. The very ambitious goals are not supported by actual financial means; a tension remains between the attempt to set up a European regulatory framework and national sovereignty in the social domain. Moreover, there seems to be a contradiction between competition policy applied to services and the right to welfare involved in social services. These unsolved tensions are likely to be the result of compromises in a geopolitical region accommodating different welfare state models, entailing different approaches, goals and interests.

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Claudio Feijóo, Sergio Ramos and José-Luis Gómez-Barroso

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Claudio Feijóo, José-Luis Gómez-Barroso and Shivom Aggarwal

Although there is no widely consented definition, big data can be characterized by specific properties or ‘dimensions’, most importantly volume, variety, velocity, and veracity and/or validity. Other concepts such as data science, data mining and data visualization have arisen around the term big data. It has also been heralded as contributing to a major transformation in the methodology of scientific work and it is linked to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the notion of open data. Given the emergent nature of the big data domain, it is no wonder that from an economic perspective it is still a field with more questions than answers. Main topics that slowly start to appear in the scientific literature and the research roadmaps are, among others, issues related to the economic value of data12 and their impact on growth, jobs and the quality of life, the analysis of the structure of this emerging industry and its implications for innovation and competition, and the application of new and existing economic theories to explain its dynamic behavior. This chapter explores the emerging domain of big data economics. It describes the features of the big data ecosystem, the main players, and their relationships. From there different economic approaches are used to explore the big data market, its dynamics and the value of data within it. Opportunities and challenges for both researchers and marketers are explored. The chapter concludes with a few reflections on policy issues.