Late-post-pandemic period in Europe has shown some “cautious optimism”: the continent has been slowly emerging from two pandemic years with the EU-wide NextGenerationEU program for a perspective recovery and resilience in the member states, including other concentrated EU efforts aimed at building strong and sustainable future.
The Eurofound’s data provides fundamental knowledge and evidences for the national governance and social policymaking in achieving the European welfare vision.
The Russian-Ukrainian war in early 2022 changed previously existed growth optimism dramatically, creating a wave of crises in the EU member states with the rising cost of living and numerous negative implications in socio-economic well-being.
The EU’s Eurofound Yearbook-2022 has made a survey of working and living conditions both before and after pandemic, showing trends in employment and potential role of social dialogue in the green and digital transition. The Eurofound’s data provides fundamental knowledge and evidences for governance and social policymaking in achieving the European welfare vision.
Living conditions and quality of life
Living conditions and quality of life has been one of the main activities in Eurofound’s work programs during recent years, including analysis of key aspects in the Europeans’ living conditions, data on peoples’ perception of quality of life and socio-economic circumstances.
Eurofound intends investigate further the impact of challenges and contemporary crises on life in the EU at various time in future.
Thus, during 2021-2024, Eurofound’s research provided an important insight into the challenges and prospects in the area of living conditions and quality of life in the EU and the role played by various initiatives aimed at alleviating the social hardship of various groups of citizens. Of particular interest are the implications for older people and care needs, youth and their social inclusion and social mobility, and the varying consequences of the crisis on men and women.
Public services across the EU played a major role in addressing the COVID-19 crisis while facing significant challenges and they will be assessed in greater detail, focusing on issues such as quality, access and affordability. As previous findings have shown, the crisis has had disproportionate effects on certain groups according to age, care responsibilities and work-life balance, and Eurofound will analyse this further.
In coordination with the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), Eurofound intends to research the multidimensional gender gap by investigating the impact on men and women of the COVID-19 crisis in terms of employment participation, material living conditions and well-being – in order to identify the differences and assess its effect on gender gaps.
As Tadas Leončikas, Senior Research Manager, Social Policies Unit noted: “Quality of public services has been key in shaping trust in institutions in contemporary Europe and will be crucial in getting through the current and future challenges. Quality services are also an area for innovation, especially in moving to digital, more environment-friendly services and being ready for risks, like the pandemic, in the future”.
Examples from 2022
The European Semester provides a framework for the coordination of the member states’ socio-economic policies: the “semester’s procedures” allow the EU member states not only to discuss their economic and budget plans at the EU-wide level, but also monitor progress at specific times throughout the year.
For example, in 2022, the European Semester resumed it broad economic and employment policy coordination, while further adapting in line with the implementation requirements of the Recovery and Resilience Facility. As part of this, the EU member states are encouraged to submit national reform programs and stability/convergence programs that will set out their economic and fiscal policy plans, as in previous Semester cycles.
The main change in the 2022 cycle has been that the national reform programs were playing a dual role: besides the cycle’s role in the European Semester, it also fulfilled the so-called bi-annual reporting requirements of the member states under the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility.