Promoting social cohesion and convergence

16 Kasım 2022

Promoting social cohesion and convergence is one of the six main activities in Eurofound’s work programme for the 2021–2024 period.Read more

Promoting social cohesion and convergence is one of the six main activities in Eurofound’s work programme for the 2021–2024 period. Eurofound will continue to operate as a centre of expertise for monitoring and analysing the key trends and determinants of achieving upward convergence in living and working conditions and strengthening economic and social cohesion in the EU. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge to the economic and social resilience of the EU, highlighting the fragility of any progress in convergence patterns already achieved.

Over the next four years, Eurofound will provide an important insight into the challenges and prospects in the area of social cohesion and convergence in the EU, helping to ensure its economies and societies are resilient to future shocks. Eurofound will expand on its work from previous years on the upward convergence theme, with particular emphasis on the potential rise of new inequalities among citizens and how to address the increased challenges to social cohesion brought about by the crisis. The Agency will report regularly on trends in upward convergence in the socioeconomic dimension, as well as in the dimensions outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights at Member State and regional levels, while also comparing the EU with other developed countries.

In exploring the drivers and implications of economic and social convergence, Eurofound will pay attention to a range of factors: social investment, mobility and institutional frameworks, regulation, welfare systems, institutional quality and public servicessocial dialogue and structural reforms. The research will examine the effectiveness of the EU’s response to the pandemic for economic and social convergence. It will also consider the situation in the euro area, as well as focusing on the role of industrial relations processes in influencing convergence.

Eurofound will investigate the trends and drivers of social cohesion in the European Union, in particular examining how the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated existing inequalities or triggered new ones affecting society more broadly or specific groups of citizens. The analysis will focus on economic, social and health disparities, both in the labour market and in terms of access to and quality of crucial goods and services such as healthcare, housing, education and social protection. The link between inequalities, institutional trust and discontent will be studied. Other areas of interest include migration, integration and societal tensions.

The research results emerging from this activity will contribute to the work of the different services of the European Commission and the Employment Committee (EMCO), the Social Protection Committee (SPC), the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), the Council and the European Parliament, including in relation to the European Semester.

 

The COVID-19 crisis has brought the concept of upward convergence back to the centre of the policy debate.... Upward convergence is important for the stability of the Union. Failing to deliver the promise of upward convergence risks undermining the functioning of the Union and creating political discontent with the European Union project.

— Massimiliano Mascherini, Head of the Social Policies Unit

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Addressing stakeholder priorities

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Eurofound’s research aims to assist policy action to support sustainable upward economic and social convergence, to reduce multidimensional inequalities and to develop initiatives to strengthen social cohesion, helping to address the challenges facing the EU and national levels brought about byRead more

Eurofound’s research aims to assist policy action to support sustainable upward economic and social convergence, to reduce multidimensional inequalities and to develop initiatives to strengthen social cohesion, helping to address the challenges facing the EU and national levels brought about by COVID-19. By investigating the pandemic recovery programmes at European level and their effect on economic and social convergence, Eurofound aims to inform policymakers on ways to promote convergence and the effectiveness of various initiatives. Research on social cohesion is intended to advance the debate on ways to promote policies towards a fairer and more inclusive society.

The Agency’s work programme is aligned with the European Commission’s political guidelines over the next four years, directly feeding into a number of key policy areas aimed at creating a strong social Europe. In particular, the research links in with the EU objective of sustainable economic and social convergence and will seek to support the debate on the European Pillar of Social Rights, its implementation and monitoring role, as well as on the reform of Economic and Monetary Union. Findings on trust can contribute to the initiatives regarding the Future of Europe debate.

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Key policy messages

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Image of infographic entitled 'Promoting social cohesion and convergence in the EU'
Infographic 2021


The main findings emerging from Eurofound research serve as input for policymakers to address some of the key issues in this area.

  • Sustainable economic and social convergence is central to Europe’s lasting stability and requires an integrated European approach.
  • Diverging economic and social performance among Member States puts shared prosperity and decent living and working conditions at risk and therefore monitoring convergence trends in the EU and implementing policies to avoid divergence is essential.
  • Before COVID-19, Europe had experienced six years of uninterrupted economic growth, absorbing the fallout of the 2008 crisis and recording upward convergence in areas like employment and risk of poverty. But not all Member States benefited equally and regional disparities grew.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic risks further widening the inequalities between Member States and across socioeconomic groups. It will test the economic and social resilience of Member States against the risk of economic and social divergence in the European Union. These growing disparities can also impact on the stability of the EU and underline the need to implement fully the European Pillar of Social Rights and to communicate these measures clearly to EU citizens.
  • Maintaining citizens’ trust in national and European institutions must remain a key focus in times of crisis, as compliance with measures to control COVID-19 greatly depends on levels of trust in institutions and scientific advice. The increase in levels of institutional trust reported by respondents who benefited from support measures also sends a clear message to national governments and the EU.
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Current and ongoing research

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In 2022, Eurofound will complete its work on explaining the geographical divide of convergence and will continue to provide regular updates on upward convergence in the economic and social dimensions outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and its accompanying social scoreboard.Read more

In 2022, Eurofound will complete its work on explaining the geographical divide of convergence and will continue to provide regular updates on upward convergence in the economic and social dimensions outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and its accompanying social scoreboard. Research will aim to capture the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on convergence and assess whether protective and recovery measures were effective in preventing divergence at national and, where possible, regional level. 

Work on urban–rural polarisation and its implications for cohesion and convergence in the EU will commence. The trends and drivers of the dynamics of the urban–rural gap will be examined across several dimensions: economic and employment opportunities, access to services, living conditions and quality of life. Data from the Living, working and COVID-19 e-survey will be used to investigate the impact of the pandemic on the urban–rural gap.

Work on the impact of COVID-19 on trust and on social inequalities will be finalised while research will commence on the impact on social cohesion and discontent in the EU, including the effects of support instruments put in place in the Member States. Eurofound will review the actions and initiatives to promote policies towards a fairer and more inclusive society in the aftermath of COVID-19. 

The Agency will investigate trends, drivers and patterns of labour market fragilities in the EU, aiming to identify the groups most affected by an unstable labour market attachment and to explore the individual, social and societal implications of this instability. The research will provide an overview of recent policy measures aimed at alleviating the economic and social impact of labour market instability on workers and citizens in EU Member States.

Finally, building on preparatory work in 2021, the research will explore the relationship between industrial relations indicators and convergence in working conditions and socioeconomic outcomes. The convergence web repository will continue to be updated and further developed.

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

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  • Publications tab (51)
  • Data tab
  • Ongoing work tab (3)

Ongoing work tab

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