New ESPN report

Social protection and inclusion policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis. An analysis of policies in 35 countries
Baptista I., Marlier E., Spasova S., Peña-Casas R., Fronteddu B., Ghailani G., Sabato S. and Regazzoni P.
This encompassing report from the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) examines (sub)national social protection and inclusion policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis in the 27 EU Member States, the UK, and the 7 (potential) candidate countries. Emergency measures helped avert a massive social crisis, yet they also highlighted major gaps in existing policies. The report also underlines their limited transformative potential for countries’ social protection systems, while proposing actions that could usefully be considered at national and/or EU level. 


  Synthesis & 35 country reports 

  Recovery and Resilience Facility

The Recovery and Resilience Facility: Have social actors been sidelined?
Vanhercke B. and Verdun A.

This AK EUROPA Policy Brief examines to what extent the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) changes the power balance among key actors (e.g. financial and economic versus social affairs actors) in the EU’s macroeconomic architecture. Following initial side-lining in a context of crisis management, social actors are reclaiming their prominence in the process. But stakeholder should not only be ‘heard’, they should be ‘listened to’. 

The video of the linked webinar (07/09/21) and the presentation are available.


Policy Brief

  OSE Rersearch Paper

Fragmented labour markets in affluent societies: examples from Germany and the Netherlands
Bekker S. and Leschke J. (2021)
The employment and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have been more severe for some groups of workers such as low-wage workers and workers in non-standard employment. The concept of ‘fragmented labour markets’ highlights the large and growing diversity in employment relationships. Fragmented labour markets are defined as labour markets characterised by an accumulation of insecurities. This OSE Research Paper applies the concept to two affluent countries (DE, NL) and highlights vulnerability in occupations such as personal care and cleaning, particularly among women.

  Social policy think-tanks

OSE amidst top 100 social policy think-tanks
The OSE has been ranked, for the fifth consecutive time among the ‘Top 100 social policy think-tanks’ worldwide by the Think-Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the University of Pennsylvania. The think-tanks in this category are considered ‘leading social policy institutions of the global community’ that provide ‘superior innovative research and strategic analyses’ and ‘excel in research, analysis and public engagement’, more particularly ‘with the aim of advancing debate and facilitating cooperation between relevant actors’.


  ETUI podcast

EU social policy: state of play
Bart Vanhercke, echoing the arguments of the recent book ‘Social policy in the European Union: state of play 2020’ expresses concern about the sidelining of 'social actors', the EU's lack of commitment to gender issues, the inadequate response to the rise in in-work poverty and the development of a new social-ecological contract. This is despite an unprecedented coordinated economic response from Member States and the European Commission, in stark contrast to the austerity-driven response to the 2008 crisis.

  New report

Non-standard workers and the self-employed in the EU: social protection during the Covid-19 pandemic
Spasova S., Ghailani D., Sabato S., Coster S., Fronteddu B.,Vanhercke B. (2021)
The purpose of this study is to map the measures related to unemployment benefits, sick pay and sickness benefits, and special leave arrangements introduced by the EU Member States during the Covid-19 pandemic. The specific focus is on non-standard workers and the self-employed, as well as on the gender dimension.

Free download

  College of Europe

Is the ‘European social model’ a reality or an elusive concept?
Bart Vanhercke has been appointed as Visiting professor at the College of Europe, a postgraduate institute of European studies. During this academic year, he will be teaching a course on ‘The Social Dimension of European Integration’ to an interdisciplinary group of students from across Europe. The course addresses the interaction between EU economic and social policies as well as the variety of EU social policy instruments. It will ultimately ask this question: is the ‘European social model’ a reality or an elusive concept?


Social policy in the EU 2020: three launch events
To mark the publication of the "Social Developments in the European Union 2020", the OSE and the ETUI organised three webinars to discuss the economic and social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the EU's social policy perspectives in different policy areas and the overall EU policy strategy. The video recordings of these webinars, which brought together researchers, policy-makers and actors from trade unions and civil society, are available online.

  New publication

Social policy in the European Union: state of play 2020
Facing the pandemic
Edited by B. Vanhercke, S. Spasova and B. Fronteddu
OSE, ETUI, Brussels, 2021


The 21th issue of this OSE and ETUI flagship book analyses the impact of the pandemic on EU social policymaking throughout 2019 and the first half of 2020, and discusses the prospects for Social Europe in different policy areas, including public health, eco-social policies, sustainable development, gender equality and in-work poverty. The ongoing ‘crisisification’ of European policymaking may, ultimately, pave the way for further European integration. 

More info (download/





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