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  Social Europe and Well-Being  




The EU’s aspirations for a ‘Social Europe’ are fraught with difficulties and contradictions, caught between higher expectations for a more social and protective Europe while being hampered in its ability to deliver. People no longer equate the European project with social progress or as an effective answer to today’s challenges. Society is becoming more polarised: widening inequalities, rising poverty and social exclusion, rapid technological change, increased precariousness, intergenerational immobility, and less stable forms of work, are all contributing to a growing sense of insecurity.

Thus, the relevance of the European project is being called into question, in particular, its added value and effectiveness in mitigating the negative impact of ongoing transformations. In response, the EU is paying increasing attention to the social dimension of EU policies. Despite this, the Union continues to face the same old, familiar challenges of limited competence in the social area and permanent resistance from (some) member states to the idea of Social Europe as an unifying goal.

How to square the circle? How can the EU add value to national policies in the area of employment, health, and social affairs? How can Social Europe be made a unifying goal and shared objective for all EU countries? These are the main questions the EPC Social Europe & Well-being Programme aims to address.
The Programme is structured around the following priorities:

• Strengthening the social dimension of EU policies and governance for upward social convergence.
• Towards a modern and inclusive labour market.
• Making European welfare states and social protection systems ‘future-fit’ in the light of ongoing labour market transformation.
• Investing in human capital for greater well-being and less inequality, with a particular focus on health.

The EPC’s work on health - mainly through the long-standing partnership with Johnson & Johnson under the CHES banner - has a particular focus on the ethical aspects, especially issues related to access, affordability and patient choice.

The activities under this Programme are closely integrated with other EPC focus areas, especially those related to migration and the economy, with a view to providing more ‘joined-up’ policy solutions.

The EU’s aspirations for a ‘Social Europe’ are fraught with difficulties and contradictions, caught between higher expectations for a more social and protective Europe while being hampered in its ability to deliver. People no longer equate the European project with social progress or as an effective answer to today’s challenges. Society is becoming more polarised: widening inequalities, rising poverty and social exclusion, rapid technological change, increased precariousness, intergenerational immobility, and less stable forms of work, are all contributing to a growing sense of insecurity.

Publications

Inequality / COMMENTARY
The Pay Transparency Directive: One small step for womankind
By Laura Rayner , Danielle Brady - 08/03/2021
Social EU / ISSUE PAPERS
Well-performing public services for a fair and resilient European society
By Simona Guagliardo , Mihai Palimariciuc - 10/02/2021
General news / NEWS
Ricardo Borges de Castro and Aileen McLeod join the EPC
By European Policy Centre - 01/02/2021

Contributions

Health & healthcare / QUOTE
COVID19 crisis: time to re-think EU role in health?
Simona Guagliardo was interviewed by Contexte on the need to re-think the European health system since the eruption of Covid19 crisis  Find it here (in French)


30 March 2020 - ,
Health & healthcare / QUOTE
Coronavirus: What EU can and can't do
Simona Guagliardo is quoted at EU observer on what the EU can and can't do in the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Read the article here

25 March 2020 - ,
Health & healthcare / QUOTE
Pourquoi l'Union européenne en fait si peu dans la lutte contre le coronavirus
Simona Guagliardo is quoted at Slate magazine on the role of the EU in the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Read the article here (in French)

25 March 2020 - ,

Projects

Energy poverty
/ TASK FORCE
Fair Energy Transition for All

Leaving no one behind in the transition to a more green and sustainable future
Social investment
/ TASK FORCE
Affordable and decent housing solutions

Make European investment a reality for the most deprived

 

Social EU / PODCAST

A strong social Europe: Long overdue or a bridge too far?
The upcoming Porto Social Summit hopes to give a much-needed push to the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EU’s attempt to add a social dimension to its policies. But without any real power in this area, what concrete results can we expect?

In this episode, the EPC's Social Europe and Well-Being team looks ahead at the summit and explores the tension between the dream of a social Europe and doing the work of building it. They explain why EU-wide social policies are worth pursuing and how they could be implemented successfully.

The discussion also covers health, the potential role of the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility in spurring reforms, and the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has had on women in the workplace.

With Rebecca Castermans , Simona Guagliardo , Mihai Palimariciuc , Aileen McLeod , Laura Rayner , Danielle Brady

                             

Health / PODCAST

Vaccine certificates: Damned if you do, damned if you don't
An EU vaccine passport could help us get back to normal sooner, but at what cost?

Despite lingering disagreement between member states, the Commission will soon present its proposal for an EU vaccine passport. The upcoming 'digital green pass' should make it easier for EU citizens to cross borders in time for the summer holidays.

But not everyone is on board; health experts warn there are still too many unknowns about the effectiveness of the existing vaccines, while others worry about the ethical, social, and privacy implications.

With vaccine certificates becoming a potential ethical, technical and political minefield, the Commission and member state governments will have to think through all possible effects and outcomes: What are the benefits of having an EU vaccine certificate? What are the potential pitfalls? And what could be some of the unforeseen, downstream consequences in the long run?

In this episode, EPC analysts try to answer those questions, covering the health, social, freedom of movement and data privacy dimensions of the debate.

With contributions from Greek Minister of Digital Governance, Kyriakos Pierrakakis, and EPC policy analysts Simona Guagliardo, Alberto-Horst Neidhardt and Andreas Aktoudianakis; and Programme Assistant Helena Hahn.

With Rebecca Castermans , Alberto-Horst Neidhardt , Simona Guagliardo , Andreas Aktoudianakis , Helena Hahn

                             

team

Associate Director and Head of the Social Europe and Wellbeing Programme at the European Policy Centre
Expertise:
Social Europe, wellbeing economy, health policy, demographic change, climate change, environment, future of Europe
Policy Analyst
Expertise:
Health and healthcare, CHES - Coalition for Health, Ethics and Society, social dimension of EU policies
Policy Analyst
Expertise:
Future of work, European social policy (special focus: employment policy), Central and Eastern European welfare states
Policy Analyst
Expertise:

Social Europe, economic governance, wellbeing economy, Recovery and Resilience Facility, the Just Transition, demographic change, the future of work


Programme Assistant
Expertise:
EU health and social policies
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