COVID-19

07 Liepa 2020

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is having a profound impact, with far-reaching implications for the way people live and work across Europe and the globe.

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The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is having a profound impact, with far-reaching implications for the way people live and work across Europe and the globe.

Short-term effects, such as massive job losses in particular sectors, the application of reduced working hours and other measures to safeguard against redundancies, are already in place. Furthermore, there has been an immediate increase in the take-up of telework and other e-services. Several months on, economies and societies are beginning to reopen as people and businesses try to resume a new normal. At this juncture, however, it remains impossible to predict the long-term impact of this crisis on citizens and their families, countries and societies.

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Recent updates

COVID-19: Policy responses across Europe

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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

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EU context

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The impact of the COVID-19 crisis, and particularly the measures taken by national governments, have already profoundly affected the regular life and work of EuropeansRead more

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis, and particularly the measures taken by national governments, have already profoundly affected the regular life and work of Europeans. National and EU authorities have launched a range of support measures, not least to relieve the immediate pressure experienced by specific sectors, many self-employed people and SMEs.

While the EU does not have direct legislative power over health matters (this being the responsibility of individual Member States), the response of the EU – and particularly the European Commission – has focused on stabilising the EU economy and on putting in place border control measures. 

The Commission’s coronavirus response team consists of three main pillars. The first pillar covers the medical field, working on prevention and procurement and relief measures and foresight. The second covers mobility, from transportation to travel advice, including Schengen-related queries. The third covers the economy, looking in-depth at various business sectors – such as tourism or transport, and trade, as well as value chains and macro-economy.

The European Central Bank put in place a €750 billion Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) to counter the serious risks to the monetary policy transmission mechanism.

The EU Agency, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), provides an overview of the situation, as well as current risk assessments on their website.

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Research

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In light of COVID-19, Eurofound has adjusted its research to:

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In light of COVID-19, Eurofound has adjusted its research to:

  • monitor the evolving situation and collect data regarding the impact of this unprecedented situation on the lives of Europeans via an online survey, as well as measures taken by policy actors to combat the effects of the pandemic on employment, working conditions and living conditions
  • provide an analysis of specific topics, such as employment effects, effects on specific sectors, effectiveness of specific measures (for example, short-time work schemes).

Initially, more in-depth analysis will be produced in the form of an ad-hoc report, COVID-19: Some implications for employment and working life, which will focus on evaluating employment effects and looking at measures implemented with a view to limiting the negative effects.

In the medium to longer term, Eurofound is already actively exploring other areas where it could possibly adjust its current and future work to respond effectively to the situation.

    Labour market

    Over the years, Eurofound has established itself as a key resource on labour markets and labour market change. Previous and ongoing research includes the European Restructuring Monitor (ERM), which monitors the employment impact of large-scale restructuring events in Europe. Eurofound will build on the work it currently carries out in the area of labour market monitoring and analysis. The ERM will adjust its focus to include monitoring of the impact of COVID-19 on the employment effects of large-scale restructuring events in Europe.

    Efforts will also be made to adapt elements of the existing European Jobs Monitor (EJM) to further understand the changing employment structure in Europe in view of the crisis.

    Platform work has been an important topic over the past few years and has gained in importance during the present crisis. Most recently, Eurofound published an article highlighting the sick pay void for platform workers due to the Coronavirus, which draws information from Eurofound’s Platform economy repository. This database is continuously updated with information on how the crises impacts platform work and platform workers. A 2019 policy brief addressed the employment and working conditions of selected types of platform work.

    Eurofound will be looking to analyse new developments, such as the increased demand for some types of platform work and associated health risks for workers, as well as the decrease in demand for other types of platform work and associated earnings and protection gap. 

    Support measures

    Both the EU and national governments have introduced a variety of support measures aimed at averting a new recession. Eurofound will continuously update the ERM support instruments database and add a specific focus on COVID-19 measures.

    The fact sheets in the ERM events database are updated on a weekly basis to show redundancies and the database is now searchable for input related to COVID-19.

    Eurofound has also compiled a variety of information on social protection and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – two areas of great importance for upcoming or already introduced support measures.

    Ongoing work on examining the social partners’ involvement in the elaboration and implementation of support measures will expand to include the extraordinary policies and measures introduced to combat the impact of COVID-19. An assessment of their effectiveness will be carried out using the Network of Eurofound Correspondents.

    Workplace issues and working life

      One of the most radical changes for many people during COVID-19 has been the switch to teleworking, due to the introduction of quarantine and safety measures. The subject of teleworking is covered in Eurofound’s COVID-19 e-survey and first findings show that teleworking has taken off in all EU countries with over a third of those in employment starting to work remotely as a result of the pandemic, with obvious consequences for work–life balance. Future research will look at the effects of the rise in teleworking and ICT-based mobile work and implications for work–life balance, as well as the right to disconnect.

      Other important research areas

      • With increasing calls for the introduction of a minimum income or the use of other tools as a stabiliser for future crises, Eurofound proposes taking steps to analyse this in greater detail.
      • In light of the launch of the fourth European Company Survey in autumn 2020, it is already planned to carry out follow-up interviews to map challenges reported by companies and the measures introduced.

      Societal impact, quality of life and public services

      Eurofound has carried out a range of research on youth and specifically on young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), who emerged as one of the most vulnerable groups following the Great Recession. Considering the current crisis, Eurofound proposes to examine the impact on young people as part of its ongoing study on NEETs, as well as examining the implications of the unprecedented increase in digital solutions (e-learning, e-healthcare, e-entertainment/leisure). Eurofound’s COVID-19 e-survey already shows the serious impact yet again on young people, as they cope with the lowest levels of mental well-being and high levels of loneliness. Young men also appear most affected by job loss in the current crisis.

      It will also expand its work on societal change and trust in institutions – in particular, trust in national governments – in light of the impact of COVID-19. Eurofound’s COVID-19 e-survey covers trust in institutions and first findings show that Europeans are reporting dramatically low levels of trust in the EU and in their national governments. Highest trust levels lie with healthcare systems in combating the COVID-19 crisis. 

      Existing work carried out in the area of social protection could also be extended to address how new provisions complement existing social protection cover and the costs and benefits of such initiatives.

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        Key outputs over the years

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        Data collection

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        Drawing on its Network of Eurofound Correspondents, while also adapting the focus of its in-house resources, Eurofound has begun to monitor the critical changes the crisis has brought to the labour market, working conditions and quality of life across the EU in the short term andRead more

        Drawing on its Network of Eurofound Correspondents, while also adapting the focus of its in-house resources, Eurofound has begun to monitor the critical changes the crisis has brought to the labour market, working conditions and quality of life across the EU in the short term and aims to map how different Member States have responded to the challenges that have emerged.

        Eurofound has taken a multi-pronged response in terms of data collection. This includes:

        • an online survey on Living, working and COVID-19, the first findings of which are already available, and wave 2 currently underway
        • a database of national-level policy responses, COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch , for which a mapping report is just published.

        These projects complement a range on ongoing or new research on the implications for quality of life, employment and working life, as outlined above.

        E-survey

        On 9 April 2020, Eurofound launched the first wave of a large-scale online survey across the European Union and beyond to capture the immediate economic and social effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The aim of the survey was to investigate the impact on well-being, work and telework and on the financial situation of people living in Europe. The first findings are now available.

        Almost three months on, Eurofound launches a second wave of the survey on 26 June to compare the situation on the ground as economies and societies begin to reopen with the situation during the lockdown phase.

        This online survey includes a range of questions relevant to people across various age groups and life situations. Most of the questions come from Eurofound’s long-standing European Quality of Life Survey and European Working Conditions Survey, but some questions are new or were adapted from other sources, such as the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC).

        The survey is designed for a general population of 18 years or older living in the EU Member States, but it is open for people from other countries too.

        A final overview report will be published in September which will provide an analysis of the key issues raised by the results of the survey in the first and second waves. It will highlight the key pressure points caused by the crisis and detail the impact on different groups while also exploring the evolution of these changes over the three-month period. Drawing on the unique results of this pan-European survey and building on previous research, Eurofound aims to provide critical support to policymakers as they face the challenges ahead.

        COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

        Working life in EU Member States is facing enormous pressure due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the precautionary measures since taken by governments. Based on research from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents, Eurofound has begun to look at the initial reactions of European institutions and some responses by EU social partners to those challenges.

        Eurofound’s database COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis. It also gathers examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts of COVID-19. A mapping report is now available.

          In reaction to COVID-19, many countries have introduced measures such as the deferral of debt and mortgage repayments. Eurofound could explore moving beyond its recent research into household over-indebtedness, to provide an overview of such measures and whether these were applied to the general population or only to certain groups.

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          Publications & data

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

          • Publications tab (31)
          • Data tab
          • Ongoing work tab (2)

          Data tab

          A selection of related data on this topic are linked below.

          Ongoing work tab

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