EU priorities: Working for a strong social Europe

The European Council’s Strategic Agenda for 2019–2024, adopted in June 2019, sets out the main priorities to guide the work of the EU in the coming years. In December 2019, the von der Leyen Commission set out plans for a transition to a fair, climate-neutral and digital Europe. It outlined six top priorities, also reflecting the main priorities for the European Parliament and those in the Council’s Strategic Agenda.

As part of the priorities outlined by the Commission, a number of initiatives have already been set in motion. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and also the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Commission has had to adjust its work programme to prioritise actions needed to support the EU’s recovery as well as support the Member States and citizens of Ukraine. EC President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her third State of the Union address on 14 September 2022, outlining the priorities for the year ahead. She spoke about the huge impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the importance of European solidarity, the energy crisis we face, the EU’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of NextGenerationEU for sustaining jobs and growth. She touched on the future of Europe, achieving the transition to a digital and net-zero economy, supporting our young people, while also strengthening our democracies. She also highlighted a number of proposals stemming from the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe, for instance a new initiative on mental health. She proposed 2023 as the European Year of Skills, following on from the European Year of Youth in 2022. 

The Commission’s 2023 work programme outlines the next steps in its agenda towards delivering on the ambitions the Commission set at the outset of its mandate and further steer the EU towards a sustainable recovery, driven also by the conlusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The 2023 programme lists important legislative proposals across all six priorities.

The EU has had to adapt and respond to the evolving crisis brought about by the war waged by Russia on Ukraine. The war has resulted in massive destruction in Ukraine and a huge influx of refugees to the EU, prompting a range of support measures at EU level to help Member States meet the needs of refugees. The European Council has activated the first-ever Temporary Protection Directive, which includes special protection for children, access to education and healthcare, as well as access to jobs, accommodation and housing. 

Eurofound research

Eurofound’s work directly feeds into a number of these key areas and aims to inform effective policies that can lead to recovery and resilience in creating a strong social Europe. This work falls under six main topic areas in our programming document for 2021–2024.



Foundation Forum 2022

03 March 2022: In cooperation with the Irish Government, Eurofound held its 7th flagship Foundation Forum 2022. With over 800 participants, this one-day event was an opportunity to explore the theme of Europe’s recovery and how, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU can work to ensure lasting equality, inclusion and social cohesion as it embarks on its path to rebuild a greener, more digital and more resilient Union.

Explore where Eurofound’s research can provide you with the most current findings relevant to the EU policy priorities.

Priority 1: An economy that works for people

Working for social fairness and prosperity. This priority includes the following EU initiatives:

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Priority 2: A Europe fit for the digital age

Empowering people with a new generation of technologies. This priority includes the following initiatives:

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Priority 3: Promoting our European way of life

Building a Union of equality in which we all have the same access to opportunities. This priority includes the following initiatives:

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Priority 4: A European Green Deal

Striving to be the first climate-neutral continent. This priority includes the following initiatives:

  • European Green Deal to ensure a transition to a climate-neutral continent which is fair and just for all and where ‘no one will be left behind’
  • Fit for 55 package presented in July 2021 as part of the European Green Deal to deliver the EU’s 2030 climate targets

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Priority 5: A stronger Europe in the world

Europe to strive for more by strengthening our unique brand of responsible global leadership. This priority includes the following initiatives:

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Priority 6: A new push for European democracy

Nurturing, protecting and strengthening our democracy. This priority includes the following initiatives:

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