Social policies

21 November 2022

Image of disabled worker receiving instruction in carpenters' workshop

European social policies aim to promote employment, improve living and working conditions, provide adequate social protection and combat social exclusion.Read more

European social policies aim to promote employment, improve living and working conditions, provide adequate social protection and combat social exclusion. These policies are generally the competence and responsibility of the EU Member States but the European Pillar of Social Rights gives new momentum to initiatives at European level. 

Read less

Viimased uuendused

Youth first! Employment, skills and social policies that work for young Europeans in times of uncertainty

In the European Year of Youth, five EU Agencies, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (...

EU context

Top

The European Pillar of Social Rights, endorsed in November 2017, is built upon 20 key principles, structured around: equal opportunities and access to the labour market; fair working conditions; and social protection and inclusion.Read more

The European Pillar of Social Rights, endorsed in November 2017, is built upon 20 key principles, structured around: equal opportunities and access to the labour market; fair working conditions; and social protection and inclusion. On 4 March 2021, the European Commission presented its action plan to fully implement the Pillar, turning the principles into concrete actions to benefit EU citizens, while also supporting the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It outlines three EU-level targets to be achieved by 2030 and that will help to steer national policies and reforms:

  • At least 78% of the population aged 20 to 64 should be in employment by 2030
  • At least 60% of all adults should participate in training every year
  • The number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion should be reduced by at least 15 million by 2030, including at least 5 million children

Implementation of the Pillar largely depends on the actions of the Member States, who primarily hold responsibility for employment, skills and social policies. The Commission supports Member States in achieving these targets by providing guidance and coordination of national economic and social policies via the European Semester process, including related country-specific recommendations, in order to strengthen employment and social policies and to invest in social services and social infrastructure.

In the social policy area, in June 2021, the Commission launched a European Platform on Combating Homelessness and in September 2022, presented a new European Care Strategy, including an initiative on long-term care and the revision of the Barcelona targets. Also in 2022, it put forward a proposal for a Council Recommendation on minimum income. It has also launched in 2021 a high-level expert group to study the future of the welfare state.

The European Social Policy Network (ESPN), set up by the Commission in 2014, provides independent information, analysis and expertise on social policies. The principles in the Social Pillar provide an extensive basis for development of new initiatives. 

Eurofound’s work on social policies links in with the Commission’s 2019–2024 priority on a European Green Deal. 

Read less

Research

Top

Eurofound links its research to the policy priorities formulated by the European institutions and social partners. The Agency’s research findings show how policies are working out in practice, what approaches have been shown to work, and indicate how policies can be made more effective.

Read more

Eurofound links its research to the policy priorities formulated by the European institutions and social partners. The Agency’s research findings show how policies are working out in practice, what approaches have been shown to work, and indicate how policies can be made more effective.

European Quality of Life Survey

Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) provides a fairly comprehensive picture of living conditions and helps depict new or emerging risks that can inform the social policies of the future. EQLS 2016, the fourth survey since 2003, looks at the situation around work and family life, health and care services, education, living standards, as well issues around social tensions and social inclusion. 

Largely based on EQLS data, Eurofound produces a series of policy briefs from each survey on a range of topics providing background information and policy pointers for all actors and interested parties engaged in the current European debate on the future of social policy. Topics based on data from the EQLS 2016 include: 

  • What makes capital cities the best places to live?
  • Is rural Europe being left behind?
  • Age and quality of life: Who are the winners and losers?
  • Social and employment situation of people with disabilities
  • Social insecurities and resilience

Read more in our publication series: European Quality of Life 2016

Research on vulnerable groups

Other social policy research has examined a range of measures aimed at improving the situation of vulnerable groups. In particular, Eurofound has carried out extensive research on policies targeting young people, particularly those aged 15–29 who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs), long-term unemployed youth, as well as young people with disabilities or health problems. Research has also focused on issues affecting older people, including innovative solutions around income and retirement. Additional studies have looked at access to early childhood care, home-care services, and care homes for older Europeans. Research has also examined equal opportunities and social mobility in Europe and measures to promote employment opportunities for economically inactive persons, while evidence on in-work poverty has been assessed.

Read less

Publications & data

Top

The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.

  • Publications (741)
  • Data
  • Ongoing work (5)

Ongoing work

Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles. 

 

Other topics addressed will include:

  • Examining services for labour market integration of people with disabilities based on data from the 4th EQLS to support policymaking in designing relevant and efficient services
  • Mapping developments in advisory for household debt in EU countries as well as identifying barriers to access these services to combat poverty and assessing take-up
  • Analysing differences and inequalities in access to social services of general interest in the EU and assessing the nature and extent of convergence/divergence
  • Exploring wealth and transmission of (dis-) advantage in the context of social mobility, with the possibility to inform policymakers about equality of opportunity and fairness in society
  • Monitoring convergence in social protection and providing in-depth analyses of convergence trends among European countries as well as a discussion of policy options to restore convergence among Member States
  • Report on regional convergence and inequalities, which investigates evolutions of social imbalances (e.g. unemployment, social exclusion, poverty) at the regional level and examines the relationship between growth, regional disparities and interpersonal inequalities